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Full text of "The works of Robert Louis Stevenson"

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National Library of Scotland 

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*B000297156* 



This Edinburgh Edition consists of 

one thousand and. thirty-five copies 

all numbered 

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Vol. XXI. of issue : December 1896 



THE WORKS OF 

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

EDINBURGH EDITION 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

National Library of Scotland 



http://archive.org/details/worksofrobertlvol21stev 



THE WORKS OF 

ROBERT LOUIS 
STEVENSON 

MISCELLANIES 
VOLUME IV 




EDINBURGH 

PRINTED BY T. AND A. CONSTABLE FOR 

LONGMANS GREEN AND CO : CASSELL AND CO. 

SEELEY AND CO : CHAS. SCRIBNER'S SONS 

AND SOLD BY CHATTO AND WINDUS 

PICCADILLY: LONDON 

1896 




v<V*» l 



-'io:/, 



JUVENILIA 

AND 

OTHER PAPERS 



LAY MORALS 



PRAYERS 



The present volume of the Edinburgh Edition {being the fourth 
and last of the division 'Miscellanies') is intended to put 
subscribers in possession of such portions of the author's 
occasional writings, not hitherto collected, as best illustrate 
either the growth of his powers during the experimental period 
of youth, or the qualities of his mind and character in general. 
Its contents are drawn partly from unpublished MSS. and 
partly from various pamphlets, reviews, and periodicals. The 
most important item in the former class is the fragment called 
'Lay Morals,' which, though left uncompleted and unrevised, 
seemed on all accounts too interesting to omit. In both classes 
alike the editor has selected according to the best of his judg- 
ment; neither thinking it desirable to print all the unpublished 
MSS. of the author, nor to resuscitate all his minor or less 
characteristic contributions to periodical literature. 

The photogravure portrait at the head of the volume has been 
prepared by the Art Reproduction Co. from an original kindly 
furnished by Mr. John S. Sargent, A.B.A., vis. a platinotype 
enlargement from a roughly-printed little amateur photograph 
taken by Mr. Lloyd Osbourne in 1885. In Mr. Sargent's (and 
the editor's) opinion this is by far the happiest portrait of the 
author extant. 



CONTENTS 
JUVENILIA AND OTHER PAPERS 



I. THE PENTLAND RISING . 


PAGE 
1 


I. SKETCHES — 




i. The Satirist 


31 


ii. Nuits Blanches 


34 


iii. The Wreath of Immortelles 


37 


iv. Nurses 


43 


v. A Character 


46 



III. COLLEGE PAPERS — 

i. Edinburgh Students in 1824 . 51 

ii. The Modern Student considered 

generally . . .56 

iii. Debating Societies . . 66 

iv. The Philosophy of Umbrellas . 74 

v. The Philosophy of Nomenclature 80 
b ix 



CONTENTS 

IV. NOTES AND ESSAYS, CHIEFLY OF THE 
ROAD — 



PAGE 



i. A Retrospect . . .89 

ii. Cockermouth and Keswick . 101 

iii. Roads .... 114 

iv. Notes on the Movements of 

Young Children . .124 

v. On the Enjoyment of Unpleasant 

Places . . . 131 

vi. An Autumn Effect . .143 

vii. A Winter's Walk in Carrick and 

Galloway . . .169 

viii. Forest Notes . . .183 

ix. A Mountain Town in France . 216 

v. criticisms — 

i. Lord Lytton's Fables in Song . 233 

ii. Salvini's Macbeth . . .245 

iii. Bagster's Pilgrim's Progress . 253 

VI. AN APPEAL TO THE CLERGY OF THE 

CHURCH OF SCOTLAND . .271 

X 



CONTENTS 

VII. ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS WRITTEN AT 
VAILIMA 

PAGE 

i. My First Book : Treasure Island 285 

ii. The Genesis of the Master of 

Ballantrae . . . 297 

iii. Random Memories : ' Rosa quo 

locorum ' 302 



LAY MORALS . .313 



PRAYERS written for Family Use 

at Vailima .... 379 



Portrait .... frontispiece 

From a photograph by Lloyd Osbourne, 1885. 

Woodcuts . . . at page 264 

From Bagsters ' Pilgrim's Progress. ' 



XI 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

A PAGE OF HISTORY 

1666 



1 A cloud of witnesses ly here, 
Who for Christ's interest did appear. 

INSCRIPTION ON BATTLE-FIELD AT 
BULLION GREEN. 



21- 



Published as a Pamphlet by Andrew Elliot, 

Edinburgh, 1866. 

Now reprinted for the first time. 



THE PENTLAND RISING 



THE CAUSES OF THE REVOLT 

* Halt, passenger ; take heed what thou dost see, 
This tomb doth show for what some men did die.' 

Monument, Greyfriars' Churchyard, Edinburgh, 
1661-1668. 1 

Two hundred years ago a tragedy was enacted in 
Scotland, the memory whereof has been in great 
measure lost or obscured by the deep tragedies which 
followed it. It is, as it were, the evening of the 
night of persecution — a sort of twilight, dark indeed 
to us, but light as the noonday when compared with 
'the midnight gloom which followed. This fact, of 
its being the very threshold of persecution, lends it, 
however, an additional interest. 

The prejudices of the people against Episcopacy 
were 'out of measure increased, 1 says Bishop Burnet, 
' by the new incumbents who were put in the places 
of the ejected preachers, and were generally very 
mean and despicable in all respects. They were the 
worst preachers I ever heard ; they were ignorant to 

1 Theater of Mortality, p. 10 ; Edin. 1713. 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

a reproach ; and many of them were openly vicious. 
They . . . were indeed the dreg and refuse of the 
northern parts. Those of them who arose above 
contempt or scandal were men of such violent 
tempers that they were as much hated as the others 
were despised.' 1 It was little to be wondered at, 
from this account, that the country-folk refused to 
go to the parish church, and chose rather to listen 
to outed ministers in the fields. But this was not 
to be allowed, and their persecutors at last fell on 
the method of calling a roll of the parishioners' 
names every Sabbath, and marking a fine of twenty 
shillings Scots to the name of each absenter. In 
this way very large debts were incurred by persons 
altogether unable to pay. Besides this, landlords 
were fined for their tenants' absences, tenants for 
their landlords', masters for their servants', servants 
for their masters', even though they themselves were 
perfectly regular in their attendance. And as the 
curates were allowed to fine with the sanction of 
any common soldier, it may be imagined that often 
the pretexts were neither very sufficient nor well 
proven. 

When the fines could not be paid at once, Bibles, 
clothes, and household utensils were seized upon, or 
a number of soldiers, proportionate to his wealth, 
were quartered on the offender. The coarse and 
drunken privates filled the houses with woe ; snatched 
the bread from the children to feed their dogs ; 

1 History of My Own Times, beginning 1660, by Bishop Gilbert Burnet, 
p. 158. 



THE CAUSES OF THE REVOLT 

shocked the principles, scorned the scruples, and 
blasphemed the religion of their humble hosts ; 
and when they had reduced them to destitution, sold 
the furniture, and burned down the roof-tree which 
was consecrated to the peasants by the name of 
Home. For all this attention each of these soldiers 
received from his unwilling landlord a certain sum of 
money per day — three shillings sterling, according to 
Naphtali. And frequently they were forced to pay 
quartering money for more men than were in reality 
' cessed ' on them. At that time it was no strange 
thing to behold a strong man begging for money to 
pay his fines, and many others who were deep in 
arrears, or who had attracted attention in some other 
way, were forced to flee from their homes, and take 
refuge from arrest and imprisonment among the 
wild mosses of the uplands. 1 

One example in particular we may cite : 
John Neilson, the Laird of Corsack, a worthy 
man, was, unfortunately for himself, a Noncon- 
formist. First he was fined in four hundred pounds 
Scots, and then through cessing he lost nineteen 
hundred and ninety-three pounds Scots. He was 
next obliged to leave his house and flee from place 
to place, during which wanderings he lost his horse. 
His wife and children were turned out of doors, and 
then his tenants were fined till they too were almost 
ruined. As a final stroke, they drove away all his 
cattle to Glasgow and sold them. 2 Surely it was 

1 Woclrow's Church History, Book n. chap. i. sect. 1. 

2 Crookshank's Church History, 1751, second ed. p. 202. 

5 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

time that something were done to alleviate so much 
sorrow, to overthrow such tyranny. 

About this time too there arrived in Galloway a 
person calling himself Captain Andrew Gray, and 
advising the people to revolt. He displayed some 
documents purporting to be from the northern 
Covenanters, and stating that they were prepared to 
join in any enterprise commenced by their southern 
brethren. The leader of the persecutors was Sir 
James Turner, an officer afterwards degraded for his 
share in the matter. * He was naturally fierce, but 
was mad when he was drunk, and that was very 
often,' said Bishop Burnet. ' He was a learned man, 
but had always been in armies, and knew no other 
rule but to obey orders. He told me he had no 
regard to any law, but acted, as he was commanded, 
in a military way.' 1 

This was the state of matters, when an outrage 
was committed which gave spirit and determination 
to the oppressed countrymen, lit the flame of in- 
subordination, and for the time at least recoiled on 
those who perpetrated it with redoubled force. 

1 Burnet, p. 348. 



THE BEGINNING 

ii 

THE BEGINNING 

I love no warres, If it must be 

I love no jarres, Warre we must see 

Nor strife's fire. (So fates conspire), 

May discord cease, May we not feel 

Let 's live in peace : The force of steel : 

This I desire. This I desire. 

T. Jackson, 1651. 1 

Upon Tuesday, November 13th, 1666, Corporal 
George Dearies and three other soldiers set upon an 
old man in the clachan of Dairy and demanded the 
payment of his fines. On the old man's refusing to 
pay, they forced a large party of his neighbours to 
go with them and thresh his corn. The field was a 
certain distance out of the clachan, and four persons, 
disguised as countrymen, who had been out on the 
moors all night, met this mournful drove of slaves, 
compelled by the four soldiers to work for the ruin 
of their friend. However, chilled to the bone by 
their night on the hills, and worn out by want of 
food, they proceeded to the village inn to refresh 
themselves. Suddenly some people rushed into the 
room where they were sitting, and told them that 
the soldiers were about to roast the old man, naked, 
on his own girdle. This was too much for them to 
stand, and they repaired immediately to the scene 
of this gross outrage, and at first merely requested 

1 Fuller's Historie of the Holy Warre, fourth ed. 1651. 

7 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

that the captive should be released. On the refusal 
of the two soldiers who were in the front room, high 
words were given and taken on both sides, and the 
other two rushed forth from an adjoining chamber 
and made at the countrymen with drawn swords. 
One of the latter, John M'Lellan of Barscob, drew 
a pistol and shot the corporal in the body. The 
pieces of tobacco-pipe with which it was loaded, to 
the number of ten at least, entered him, and he was 
so much disturbed that he never appears to have 
recovered, for we find long afterwards a petition to 
the Privy Council requesting a pension for him. 
The other soldiers then laid down their arms, the 
old man was rescued, and the rebellion was com- 
menced. 1 

And now we must turn to Sir James Turner's 
memoirs of himself; for, strange to say, this extra- 
ordinary man was remarkably fond of literary com- 
position, and wrote, besides the amusing account of 
his own adventures just mentioned, a large number 
of essays and short biographies, and a work on war, 
entitled Pallas Armata. The following are some of 
the shorter pieces : ' Magick,' ' Friendship,' ' Im- 
prisonment,' 'Anger,' 'Revenge,' 'Duells,' 'Cruelty,' 
' A Defence of some of the Ceremonies of the 
English Liturgie, to wit — Bowing at the Name of 
Jesus, The frequent repetition of the Lord's Prayer 
and Good Lord deliver us, Of the Doxologie, Of 
Surplesses, Rotchets, Cannonicall Coats,' etc. From 
what we know of his character we should expect 

1 Wodrow, vol. ii. p. 17. 

8 



THE BEGINNING 

" Anger ' and ' Cruelty ' to be very full and instruc- 
tive. But what earthly right he had to meddle 
with ecclesiastical subjects it is hard to see. 

Upon the 12th of the month he had received some 
information concerning Gray's proceedings, but as 
it was excessively indefinite in its character, he paid 
no attention to it. On the evening of the 14th, 
Corporal Deanes was brought into Dumfries, who 
affirmed stoutly that he had been shot while refusing 
to sign the Covenant — a story rendered singularly 
unlikely by the after conduct of the rebels. Sir 
James instantly despatched orders to the cessed 
soldiers either to come to Dumfries or meet him on 
the way to Dairy, and commanded the thirteen or 
fourteen men in the town with him to come at nine 
next morning to his lodging for supplies. 

On the morning of Thursday the rebels arrived 
at Dumfries with 50 horse and 150 foot. Neilson of 
Corsack, and Gray, who commanded, with a con- 
siderable troop, entered the town, and surrounded 
Sir James Turner's lodging. Though it was between 
eight and nine o'clock, that worthy, being unwell, 
was still in bed, but rose at once and went to the 
window. 

Neilson and some others cried, 'You may have 
fair quarter.' 

' I need no quarter,' replied Sir James ; ' nor can I 
be a prisoner, seeing there is no war declared.' On 
being told, however, that he must either be a prisoner 
or die, he came down, and went into the street in his 
night-shirt. Here Gray showed himself very desir- 

9 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

ous of killing him, but he was overruled by Corsack. 
However, he was taken away a prisoner, Captain 
Gray mounting him on his own horse, though, as 
Turner naively remarks, 'there was good reason 
for it, for he mounted himself on a farre better one 
of mine.' A large coffer containing his clothes and 
money, together with all his papers, were taken away 
by the rebels. They robbed Master Chalmers, the 
Episcopalian minister of Dumfries, of his horse, 
drank the King's health at the market cross, and 
then left Dumfries. 1 



in 
THE MARCH OF THE REBELS 

' Stay, passenger, take notice what thou reads, 
At Edinburgh lie our bodies, here our heads ; 
Our right hands stood at Lanark, these we want, 
Because with them we signed the Covenant.' 

Epitaph on a Tombstone at Hamilton. 2 

On Friday the 16th, Bailie Irvine of Dumfries 
came to the Council at Edinburgh, and gave infor- 
mation concerning this 'horrid rebellion.' In the 
absence of Rothes, Sharpe presided — much to the 
wrath of some members ; and as he imagined his 
own safety endangered, his measures were most 
energetic. Dalzell was ordered away to the West, 

1 Sir J. Turner's Memoirs, pp. 148-50. 

2 A Cloud of Witnesses, p. 376. 

IO 



THE MARCH OF THE REBELS 

the guards round the city were doubled, officers and 
soldiers were forced to take the oath of allegiance, 
and all lodgers were commanded to give in their 
names. Sharpe, surrounded with all these guards 
and precautions, trembled — trembled as he trembled 
when the avengers of blood drew him from his 
chariot on Magus Muir, — for he knew how he had 
sold his trust, how he had betrayed his charge, and 
he felt that against him must their chiefest hatred 
be directed, against him their direst thunderbolts 
be forged. But even in his fear the apostate Pres- 
byterian was unrelenting, unpityingly harsh ; he 
published in his manifesto no promise of pardon, 
no inducement to submission. He said, 'If you 
submit not you must die,' but never added, 'If 
you submit you may live ! ' 1 

Meantime the insurgents proceeded on their way. 
At Carsphairn they were deserted by Captain Gray, 
who, doubtless in a fit of oblivion, neglected to leave 
behind him the coffer containing Sir James's money. 
Who he was is a mystery, unsolved by any his- 
torian ; his papers were evidently forgeries — that, 
and his final flight, appear to indicate that he was 
an agent of the Royalists, for either the King or the 
Duke of York was heard to say, ' That, if he might 
have his wish, he would have them all turn rebels 
and go to arms.' 2 

Upon the 18th day of the month they left Cars- 
phairn and marched onwards. 

Turner was always lodged by his captors at a 

1 Wodrow, pp. 19, 20. 2 A Hind Let Loose, p. 123. 

II 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

good inn, frequently at the best of which their 
halting-place could boast. Here many visits were 
paid to him by the ministers and officers of the in- 
surgent force. In his description of these interviews 
he displays a vein of satiric severity, admitting any 
kindness that was done to him with some qualifying 
souvenir of former harshness, and gloating over any 
injury, mistake, or folly, which it was his chance to 
suffer or to hear. He appears, notwithstanding all 
this, to have been on pretty good terms with his 
cruel * phanaticks,' as the following extract suf- 
ficiently proves : 

* Most of the foot were lodged about the church 
or churchyard, and order given to ring bells next 
morning for a sermon to be preached by Mr. Welch. 
Maxwell of Morith, and Major M'Cullough invited 
me to heare " that phanatick sermon " (for soe they 
merrilie called it). They said that preaching might 
prove an effectual meane to turne me, which they 
heartilie wished. I answered to them that I was 
under guards, and that if they intended to heare 
that sermon, it was probable I might likewise, for 
it was not like my guards wold goe to church and 
leave me alone at my lodgeings. Bot to what they 
said of my conversion, I said, it wold be hard to 
turne a Turner. Bot because I founde them in a 
merrie humour, I said, if I did not come to heare 
Mr. Welch preach, then they might fine me in fortie 
shillings Scots, which was double the suome of what 
I had exacted from the phanatics.' 1 

1 Turner, p. 163. 
12 



THE MARCH OF THE REBELS 

This took place at Ochiltree, on the 22nd day of 
the month. The following is recounted by this 
personage with malicious glee, and certainly, if 
authentic, it is a sad proof of how chaff is mixed 
with wheat, and how ignorant, almost impious, per- 
sons were engaged in this movement ; nevertheless 
we give it, for we wish to present with impartiality 
all the alleged facts to the reader : 

* Towards the evening Mr. Robinsone and Mr. 
Crukshank gaue me a visite ; I called for some ale 
purposelie to heare one of them blesse it. It fell 
Mr. Robinsone to seeke the blessing, who said one 
of the most bombastick graces that ever I heard in 
my life. He summoned God Allmightie very im- 
periouslie to be their secondarie (for that was his 
language). "And if," said he, "thou wilt not be 
our Secondarie, we will not fight for thee at all, for 
it is not our cause bot thy cause ; and if thou wilt 
not fight for our cause and thy oune cause, then we 
are not obliged to fight for it. They say," said he, 
"that Dukes, Earles, and Lords are coming with 
the King's General against us, bot they shall be 
nothing bot a threshing to us." This grace did more 
fullie satisfie me of the folly and injustice of their 
cause, then the ale did quench my thirst.' l 

Frequently the rebels made a halt near some 
roadside alehouse, or in some convenient park, where 
Colonel Wallace, who had now taken the command, 
would review the horse and foot, during which time 
Turner was sent either into the alehouse or round 

1 Turner, p. 198. 

J 3 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

the shoulder of the hill, to prevent him from seeing 
the disorders which were likely to arise. He was, 
at last, on the 25th day of the month, between 
Douglas and Lanark, permitted to behold their 
evolutions. ' I found their horse did consist of four 
hundreth and fortie, and the foot of five hundreth 
and upwards. . . . The horsemen were armed for 
most part with suord and pistoll, some onlie with 
suord. The foot with musket, pike, sith (scythe), 
forke, and suord; and some with suords great and 
long.' He admired much the proficiency of their 
cavalry, and marvelled how they had attained to it 
in so short a time. 1 

At Douglas, which they had just left on the 
morning of this great wapinshaw, they were charged 
— awful picture of depravity ! — with the theft of a 
silver spoon and a nightgown. Could it be ex- 
pected that while the whole country swarmed with 
robbers of every description, such a rare opportunity 
for plunder should be lost by rogues — that among 
a thousand men, even though fighting for religion, 
there should not be one Achan in the camp ? At 
Lanark a declaration was drawn up and signed by 
the chief rebels. In it occurs the following : 

'The just sense whereof — the sufferings of the 
country — 'made us choose, rather to betake our- 
selves to the fields for self-defence, than to stay 
at home, burdened daily with the calamities of 
others, and tortured with the fears of our own 
approaching misery.' 2 

1 Turner, p. 167. 2 Wodrow, p. 29. 

H 



THE MARCH OF THE REBELS 

The whole body, too, swore the Covenant, to 
which ceremony the epitaph at the head of this 
chapter seems to refer. 

A report that Dalzell was approaching drove 
them from Lanark to Bathgate, where, on the 
evening of Monday the 26th, the wearied army 
stopped. But at twelve o'clock the cry, which 
served them for a trumpet, of * Horse ! horse ! ' and 
' Mount the prisoner ! ' resounded through the night- 
shrouded town, and called the peasants from their 
well-earned rest to toil onwards in their march. 
The wind howled fiercely over the moorland ; a 
close, thick, wetting rain descended. Chilled to the 
bone, worn out with long fatigue, sinking to the 
knees in mire, onward they marched to destruction. 
One by one the weary peasants fell off from their 
ranks to sleep, and die in the rain-soaked moor, or 
to seek some house by the wayside wherein to hide 
till daybreak. One by one at first, then in gradually 
increasing numbers, at every shelter that was seen, 
whole troops left the waning squadrons, and rushed 
to hide themselves from the ferocity of the tempest. 
To right and left nought could be descried but the 
broad expanse of the moor, and the figures of their 
fellow-rebels, seen dimly through the murky night, 
plodding onwards through the sinking moss. Those 
who kept together — a miserable few — often halted 
to rest themselves, and to allow their lagging com- 
rades to overtake them. Then onward they went 
again, still hoping for assistance, reinforcement, and 
supplies ; onward again, through the wind, and the 

15 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

rain, and the darkness — onward to their defeat at 
Pentland, and their scaffold at Edinburgh. It was 
calculated that they lost one half of their army on 
that disastrous night-march. 

Next night they reached the village of Colinton, 
four miles from Edinburgh, where they halted for 
the last time. 1 



IV 

RULLION GREEN 

' From Covenanters with uplifted hands, 
From Remonstrators with associate bands, 
Good Lord, deliver us ! ' 

Royalist Rhyme, Kibxcton, p. 127. 

Late on the fourth night of November, exactly 
twenty -four days before Rullion Green, Richard and 
George Chaplain, merchants in Haddington, beheld 
four men, clad like West-country Whigamores, 
standing round some object on the ground. It 
was at the two-mile cross, and within that distance 
from their homes. At last, to their horror, they 
discovered that the recumbent figure was a livid 
corpse, swathed in a blood-stained winding-sheet. 2 
Many thought that this apparition was a portent of 
the deaths connected with the Pentland Rising. 

On the morning of Wednesday, the 28th of 
November 1666, they left Colinton and marched to 
Rullion Green. There they arrived about sunset. 

1 Turner, Wodrow, and Church History by James Kirkton, an outed 
minister of the period. 2 Kirkton, p. 244. 

16 



BULLION GREEN 

The position was a strong one. On the summit 
of a bare, heathery spur of the Pentlands are two 
hillocks, and between them lies a narrow band of 
flat marshy ground. On the highest of the two 
mounds — that nearest the Pentlands, and on the 
left hand of the main body — was the greater part 
of the cavalry, under Major Learmont; on the 
other Barscob and the Galloway gentlemen ; and 
in the centre Colonel Wallace and the weak, 
half-armed infantry. Their position was further 
strengthened by the depth of the valley below, 
and the deep chasm-like course of the Rullion 
Burn. 

The sun, going down behind the Pentlands, cast 
golden lights and blue shadows on their snow-clad 
summits, slanted obliquely into the rich plain before 
them, bathing with rosy splendour the leafless, snow- 
sprinkled trees, and fading gradually into shadow in 
the distance. To the south, too, they beheld a 
deep-shaded amphitheatre of heather and bracken ; 
the course of the Esk, near Penicuik, winding about 
at the foot of its gorge ; the broad, brown expanse 
of Maw Moss ; and, fading into blue indistinctness 
in the south, the wild heath-clad Peeblesshire hills. 
In sooth, that scene was fair, and many a yearning 
glance was cast over that peaceful evening scene 
from the spot where the rebels awaited their defeat ; 
and when the fight was over, many a noble fellow 
lifted his head from the blood-stained heather to 
strive with darkening eyeballs to behold that land- 
scape, over which, as over his life and his cause, the 

21 — B 17 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

shadows of night and of gloom were falling and 
thickening. 

It was while waiting on this spot that the fear- 
inspiring cry was raised : ' The enemy ! Here come 
the enemy ! ' 

Unwilling to believe their own doom — for our 
insurgents still hoped for success in some negotia- 
tions for peace which had been carried on at Colin- 
ton — they called out, '■ They are some of our own.' 

'They are too blacke' (ie. numerous), 'fie! fie! 
for ground to draw up on,' cried Wallace, fully 
realising the want of space for his men, and proving 
that it was not till after this time that his forces 
were finally arranged. 1 

First of all the battle was commenced by fifty 
royalist horse sent obliquely across the hill to attack 
the left wing of the rebels. An equal number of 
Learmont's men met them, and, after a struggle, 
drove them back. The course of the Rullion Burn 
prevented almost all pursuit, and Wallace, on per- 
ceiving it, despatched a body of foot to occupy 
both the burn and some ruined sheep walls on the 
farther side. 

Dalzell changed his position, and drew up his 
army at the foot of the hill, on the top of which 
were his foes. He then despatched a mingled body 
of infantry and cavalry to attack Wallace's outpost, 
but they also were driven back. A third charge pro- 
duced a still more disastrous effect, for Dalzell had to 
check the pursuit of his men by a reinforcement. 

1 Kirkton. 

18 



RULLION GREEN 

These repeated checks bred a panic in the Lieu- 
tenant-General's ranks, for several of his men flung 
down their arms. Urged by such fatal symptoms, 
and by the approaching night, he deployed his men, 
and closed in overwhelming numbers on the centre 
and right flank of the insurgent army. In the in- 
creasing twilight the burning matches of the fire- 
locks, shimmering on barrel, halbert, and cuirass, lent 
to the approaching army a picturesque effect, like 
a huge, many-armed giant breathing flame into the 
darkness. 

Placed on an overhanging hill, Welch and Semple 
cried aloud, 'The God of Jacob ! The God of Jacob ! ' 
and prayed with uplifted hands for victory. 1 

But still the Royalist troops closed in. 

Captain John Paton was observed by Dalzell, 
who determined to capture him with his own hands. 
Accordingly he charged forward, presenting his 
pistols. Paton fired, but the balls hopped off Dal- 
zell's buff coat and fell into his boot. With the 
superstition peculiar to his age, the Nonconformist 
concluded that his adversary was rendered bullet- 
proof by enchantment, and, pulling some small silver 
coins from his pocket, charged his pistol therewith, 
Dalzell, seeing this, and supposing, it is likely, that 
Paton was putting in larger balls, hid behind his 
servant, who was killed. 2 

Meantime the outposts were forced, and the army 
of Wallace was enveloped in the embrace of a hideous 
boa-constrictor — tightening, closing, crushing every 

1 Turner. 2 Kirkton. 

19 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

semblance of life from the victim enclosed in his toils. 
The flanking parties of horse were forced in upon 
the centre, and though, as even Turner grants, they 
fought with desperation, a general flight was the 
result. 

But when they fell there was none to sing their 
coronach or wail the death-wail over them. Those 
who sacrificed themselves for the peace, the liberty, 
and the religion of their fellow-countrymen, lay 
bleaching in the field of death for long, and when 
at last they were buried by charity, the peasants dug 
up their bodies, desecrated their graves, and cast 
them once more upon the open heath for the sorry 
value of their winding-sheets ! 

Inscription on stone at Rullion Green: 

HERE 

and near to 
this place lyes the 
reverend m r john crookshank 
and m k andrew m c cormick 
ministers of the gospel and 
about fifty other true coven- 
anted presbyterians who were 
killed in this place in their own 
inocent self defence and def- 
fence of the covenanted 
work of reformation by 
thomas dalzeel of bins 
upon the 28 of november 
1666. rev. 12. 11. erected 
sept. 28 1738. 



20 



MILLION GREEN 

Back of stone : 

A Cloud of Witnesses lyes here, 
Who for Christ's Interest did appear, 
For to restore true Liberty, 
O'erturned then by tyrrany. 
And by proud Prelats who did Rage 
Against the Lord's own heritage. 
They sacrificed were for the laws 
Of Christ their king, his noble cause. 
These heroes fought with great renown ; 
By falling got the Martyr's crown. 1 



A RECORD OF BLOOD 

e They cut his hands ere he was dead, 
And after that struck off his head. 
His blood under the altar cries 
For vengeance on Christ's enemies.' 

Epitaph on Tomb at Longer oss of Clermont. 2 

Master Andrew Murray, an outed minister, re- 
siding in the Potterrow, on the morning after the 
defeat, heard the sounds of cheering and the march 
of many feet beneath his window. He gazed out. 
With colours flying, and with music sounding, Dal- 
zell, victorious, entered Edinburgh. But his banners 
were dyed in blood, and a band of prisoners were 
marched within his ranks. The old man knew it 
all. That martial and triumphant strain was the 
death-knell of his friends and of their cause, the 
rust-hued spots upon the flags were the tokens of 

1 Kirkton. ■ ■ , ; ; . .' . . . .. 

2 Cloud of Witnesses, p. 389 ; Edin. 1765. 

21 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

their courage and their death, and the prisoners were 
the miserable remnant spared from death in battle 
to die upon the scaffold. Poor old man ! he had 
outlived all joy. Had he lived longer he would 
have seen increasing torment and increasing woe ; 
he would have seen the clouds, then but gathering 
in mist, cast a more than midnight darkness over his 
native hills, and have fallen a victim to those bloody 
persecutions which, later, sent their red memorials 
to the sea by many a burn. By a merciful Pro- 
vidence all this was spared to him — he fell be- 
neath the first blow ; and ere four days had passed 
since Rullion Green, the aged minister of God was 
gathered to his fathers. 1 

When Sharpe first heard of the rebellion, he applied 
to Sir Alexander Ramsay, the Provost, for soldiers 
to guard his house. Disliking their occupation, the 
soldiers gave him an ugly time of it. All the night 
through they kept up a continuous series of ' alarms 
and incursions,' ' cries of " Stand ! " " Give fire ! " ' 
etc., which forced the prelate to flee to the Castle 
in the morning, hoping there to find the rest which 
was denied him at home. 2 Now, however, when all 
danger to himself was past, Sharpe came out in his 
true colours, and scant was the justice likely to be 
shown to the foes of Scottish Episcopacy when the 
Primate was by. The prisoners were lodged in 
Haddo's Hole, a part of St. Giles' Cathedral, where, 
by the kindness of Bishop Wishart, to his credit be 
it spoken, they were amply supplied with food. 3 

1 Kirkton, p. 247. 2 Ibid. p. 254. 3 Ibid. p. 247. 

22 



A RECORD OF BLOOD 

Some people urged, in the Council, that the pro- 
mise of quarter which had been given on the field 
of battle should protect the lives of the miserable 
men. Sir John Gilmoure, the greatest lawyer, gave 
no opinion — certainly a suggestive circumstance, — 
but Lord Lee declared that this would not interfere 
with their legal trial ; ' so to bloody executions 
they went.' 1 To the number of thirty they were con- 
demned and executed ; while two of them, Hugh 
M'Kail, a young minister, and Neilson of Corsack, 
were tortured with the boots. 

The goods of those who perished were confiscated, 
and their bodies were dismembered and distributed 
to different parts of the country ; ' the heads of 
Major M'Culloch and the two Gordons,' it was 
resolved, says Kirkton, ' should be pitched on the 
gate of Kirkcudbright ; the two Hamiltons and 
Strong's head should be affixed at Hamilton, and 
Captain Arnot's sett on the Watter Gate at Edin- 
burgh. The armes of all the ten, because they 
hade with uplifted hands renewed the Covenant at 
Lanark, were sent to the people of that town to 
expiate that crime, by placing these arms on the top 
of the prison.' 2 Among these was John Neilson, 
the Laird of Corsack, who saved Turner's life at 
Dumfries ; in return for which service Sir James 
attempted, though without success, to get the poor 
man reprieved. One of the condemned died of his 
wounds between the day of condemnation and the 
day of execution. ' None of them,' says Kirkton, 

1 Kirkton, pp. 247, 248. 2 Ibid. p. 248. 

23 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

1 would save their life by taking the declaration and 
renouncing the Covenant, though it was offered to 
them. . . . But never men died in Scotland so much 
lamented by the people, not only spectators, but 
those in the country. When Knockbreck and his 
brother were turned over, they clasped each other 
in their armes, and so endured the pangs of death. 
When Humphrey Colquhoun died, he spoke not 
like an ordinary citizen, but like a heavenly minister, 
relating his comfortable Christian experiences, and 
called for his Bible, and laid it on his wounded arm, 
and read John iii. 8, and spoke upon it to the admira- 
tion of all. But most of all, when Mr. M'Kail died, 
there was such a lamentation as was never known 
in Scotland before ; not one dry cheek upon all 
the street, or in all the numberless windows in the 
mercate place.' 1 

The following passage from this speech speaks for 
itself and its author : 

'Hereafter I will not talk with flesh and blood, 
nor think on the world's consolations. Farewell to 
all my friends, whose company hath been refreshful 
to me in my pilgrimage. I have done with the 
light of the sun and the moon ; welcome eternal 
light, eternal life, everlasting love, everlasting praise, 
everlasting glory. Praise to Him that sits upon 
the throne, and to the Lamb for ever ! Bless the 
Lord, O my soul, that hath pardoned all my 
iniquities in the blood of His Son, and healed all 
my diseases. Bless Him, O all ye His angels that 

1 Kirkton, p. 249. 



A RECORD OF BLOOD 

excel in strength, ye ministers of His that do His 
pleasure. Bless the Lord, O my soul ! ' * 

After having ascended the gallows ladder he again 
broke forth in the following words of touching 
eloquence : ' And now I leave off to speak any 
more to creatures, and begin my intercourse with 
God, which shall never be broken off. Farewell 
father and mother, friends and relations ! Farewell 
the world and all delights ! Farewell meat and 
drink ! Farewell sun, moon, and stars ! — Welcome 
God and Father ! Welcome sweet Jesus Christ, the 
Mediator of the new covenant ! Welcome blessed 
Spirit of grace and God of all consolation! Wel- 
come glory ! Welcome eternal life ! Welcome 
Death!' 2 

At Glasgow too, where some were executed, they 
caused the soldiers to beat the drums and blow the 
trumpets on their closing ears. Hideous refinement 
of revenge ! Even the last words which drop from 
the lips of a dying man — words surely the most 
sincere and the most unbiassed which mortal mouth 
can utter — even these were looked upon as poisoned 
and as poisonous. ' Drown their last accents,' was 
the cry, 'lest they should lead the crowd to take 
their part, or at the least to mourn their doom ! ' 3 
But, after all, perhaps it was more merciful than 
one would think — unintentionally so, of course; 
perhaps the storm of harsh and fiercely jubilant 
noises, the clanging of trumpets, the rattling of 

1 Naphtali, p. 205 ; Glasgow, 1721. 2 Wodrow, p. 59. 

3 Kirkton, p. 246. 

25 



THE PENTLAND RISING 

drums, and the hootings and jeerings of an unfeel- 
ing mob, which were the last they heard on earth, 
might, when the mortal fight was over, when the 
river of death was passed, add tenfold sweetness 
to the hymning of the angels, tenfold peacefulness 
to the shores which they had reached. 

Not content with the cruelty of these executions, 
some even of the peasantry, though these were con- 
fined to the shire of Mid-Lothian, pursued, captured, 
plundered, and murdered the miserable fugitives who 
fell in their way. One strange story have we of 
these times of blood and persecution : Kirkton the 
historian and popular tradition tell us alike of a 
flame which often would arise from the grave, in a 
moss near Carnwath, of some of those poor rebels : 
of how it crept along the ground ; of how it covered 
the house of their murderer ; and of how it scared 
him with its lurid glare. 

Hear Daniel Defoe : 1 

' If the poor people were by these insupportable 
violences made desperate, and driven to all the ex- 
tremities of a wild despair, who can justly reflect on 
them when they read in the Word of God " That 
oppression makes a wise man mad " ? And there- 
fore were there no other original of the insurrection 
known by the name of the Rising of Pentland, it 
was nothing but what the intolerable oppressions of 
those times might have justified to all the world, 
nature having dictated to all people a right of de- 
fence when illegally and arbitrarily attacked in a 

1 Defoe's History of the Church of Scotland. 
26 



A RECORD OF BLOOD 

manner not justifiable either by laws of nature, the 
laws of God, or the laws of the country.' 

Bear this remonstrance of Defoe's in mind, and 
though it is the fashion of the day to jeer and to 
mock, to execrate and to contemn, the noble band 
of Covenanters, — though the bitter laugh at their 
old-world religious views, the curl of the lip at their 
merits, and the chilling silence on their bravery 
and their determination, are but too rife through 
all society, — be charitable to what was evil and 
honest to what was good about the Pentland in- 
surgents, who fought for life and liberty, for country 
and religion, on the 28th of November 1666, now 
just two hundred years ago. 

Edinburgh. 28th November 1866. 



27 



II 



SKETCHES 



The following ' Sketches ' (so named 
by the writer) are from unpublished 
MSS. of 1870 to 1 87 1. 



SKETCHES 



THE SATIRIST 



My companion enjoyed a cheap reputation for wit 
and insight. He was by habit and repute a satirist. 
If he did occasionally condemn anything or anybody 
who richly deserved it, and whose demerits had 
hitherto escaped, it was simply because he con- 
demned everything and everybody. While I was 
with him he disposed of St. Paul with an epigram, 
shook my reverence for Shakespeare in a neat 
antithesis, and fell foul of the Almighty himself, on 
the score of one or two out of the ten command- 
ments. Nothing escaped his blighting censure. At 
every sentence he overthrew an idol, or lowered my 
estimation of a friend. I saw everything with new 
eyes, and could only marvel at my former blindness. 
How was it possible that I had not before observed 
A's false hair, B's selfishness, or C's boorish manners ? 
I and my companion, methought, walked the streets 
like a couple of gods among a swarm of vermin ; 
for every one we saw seemed to bear openly upon 
his brow the mark of the apocalyptic beast. I half 

3i 



SKETCHES 

expected that these miserable beings, like the people 
of Lystra, would recognise their betters and force 
us to the altar ; in which case, warned by the fate of 
Paul and Barnabas, I do not know that my modesty 
would have prevailed upon me to decline. But 
there was no need for such churlish virtue. More 
blinded than the Lycaonians, the people saw no 
divinity in our gait ; and as our temporary godhead 
lay more in the way of observing than healing their 
infirmities, we were content to pass them by in 
scorn. 

I could not leave my companion, not from regard 
or even from interest, but from a very natural 
feeling, inseparable from the case. To understand 
it, let us take a simile. Suppose yourself walking 
down the street with a man who continues to 
sprinkle the crowd out of a flask of vitriol. You 
would be much diverted with the grimaces and 
contortions of his victims ; and at the same time 
you would fear to leave his arm until his bottle was 
empty, knowing that, when once among the crowd, 
you would run a good chance yourself of baptism 
with his biting liquor. Now my companion's vitriol 
was inexhaustible. 

It was perhaps the consciousness of this, the 
knowledge that I was being anointed already out of 
the vials of his wrath, that made me fall to criticis- 
ing the critic, whenever we had parted. 

After all, I thought, our satirist has just gone far 
enough into his neighbours to find that the outside 
is false, without caring to go farther and discover 
32 



THE SATIRIST 

what is really true. He is content to find that 
things are not what they seem, and broadly 
generalises from it that they do not exist at all. 
He sees our virtues are not what they pretend they 
are ; and, on the strength of that, he denies us the 
possession of virtue altogether. He has learnt 
the first lesson, that no man is wholly good ; but he 
has not even suspected that there is another equally 
true, to wit, that no man is wholly bad. Like the 
inmate of a coloured star, he has eyes for one colour 
alone. He has a keen scent after evil, but his 
nostrils are plugged against all good, as people 
plugged their nostrils before going about the streets 
of the plague-struck city. 

Why does he do this ? It is most unreasonable 
to flee the knowledge of good like the infection of 
a horrible disease, and batten and grow fat in the 
real atmosphere of a lazar-house. This was my 
first thought ; but my second was not like unto it, 
and I saw that our satirist was wise, wise in his 
generation, like the unjust steward. He does not 
want light, because the darkness is more pleasant. 
He does not wish to see the good, because he is 
happier without it. I recollect that when I walked 
with him, I was in a state of divine exaltation, 
such as Adam and Eve must have enjoyed when 
the savour of the fruit was still unfaded between 
their lips ; and I recognise that this must be the 
man's habitual state. He has the forbidden fruit in 
his waistcoat pocket, and can make himself a god as 
often and as long as he likes. He has raised himself 
21— c 33 



SKETCHES 

upon a glorious pedestal above his fellows ; he has 
touched the summit of ambition ; and he envies 
neither King nor Kaiser, Prophet nor Priest, content 
in an elevation as high as theirs, and much more 
easily attained. Yes, certes, much more easily 
attained. He has not risen by climbing himself, 
but by pushing others down. He has grown great 
in his own estimation, not by blowing himself out, 
and risking the fate of iEsop's frog, but simply by 
the habitual use of a diminishing glass on everybody 
else. And I think altogether that his is a better, a 
safer, and a surer recipe than most others. 

After all, however, looking back on what I have 
written, I detect a spirit suspiciously like his own. 
All through, I have been comparing myself with 
our Satirist, and all through, I have had the best of 
the comparison. Well, well, contagion is as often 
mental as physical ; and I do not think my readers, 
who have all been under his lash, will blame me 
very much for giving the headsman a mouthful of 
his own sawdust. 



ii 

NUITS BLANCHES 

If any one should know the pleasure and pain of a 
sleepless night, it should be I. I remember, so long 
ago, the sickly child that woke from his few hours' 
slumber with the sweat of a nightmare on his brow, 
to lie awake and listen and long for the first signs 
34 



NUITS BLANCHES 

of life among the silent streets. These nights of 
pain and weariness are graven on my mind ; and so 
when the same thing happened to me again, every- 
thing that I heard or saw was rather a recollection 
than a discovery. 

Weighed upon by the opaque and almost sensible 
darkness, I listened eagerly for anything to break 
the sepulchral quiet. But nothing came, save, 
perhaps, an emphatic crack from the old cabinet 
that was made by Deacon Brodie, or the dry rustle 
of the coals on the extinguished fire. It was a 
calm ; or I know that I should have heard in the 
roar and clatter of the storm, as I have not heard it 
for so many years, the wild career of a horseman, 
always scouring up from the distance and passing 
swiftly below the window ; yet always returning 
again from the place whence first he came, as 
though, baffled by some higher power, he had re- 
traced his steps to gain impetus for another and 
another attempt. 

As I lay there, there arose out of the utter still- 
ness the rumbling of a carriage a very great way 
off, that drew near, and passed within a few streets 
of the house, and died away as gradually as it had 
arisen. This, too, was as a reminiscence. 

I rose and lifted a corner of the blind. Over the 
black belt of the garden I saw the long line of 
Queen Street, with here and there a lighted window. 
How often before had my nurse lifted me out of 
bed and pointed them out to me, while we wondered 
together if, there also, there were children that 

35 



SKETCHES 

could not sleep, and if these lighted oblongs were 
signs of those that waited like us for the morning. 

I went out into the lobby, and looked down into 
the great deep well of the staircase. For what 
cause I know not, just as it used to be in the old 
days that the feverish child might be the better 
served, a peep of gas illuminated a narrow circle far 
below me. But where I was, all was darkness and 
silence, save the dry monotonous ticking of the 
clock that came ceaselessly up to my ear. 

The final crown of it all, however, the last touch 
of reproduction on the pictures of my memory, was 
the arrival of that time for which, all night through, 
I waited and longed of old. It was my custom, as 
the hours dragged on, to repeat the question, 
* When will the carts come in ? ' and repeat it again 
and again until at last those sounds arose in the 
street that I have heard once more this morning. 
The road before our house is a great thoroughfare 
for early carts. I know not, and I never have 
known, what they carry, whence they come, or 
whither they go. But I know that, long ere dawn, 
and for hours together, they stream continuously 
past, with the same rolling and jerking of wheels 
and the same clink of horses' feet. It was not for 
nothing that they made the burthen of my wishes 
all night through. They are really the first throb- 
bings of life, the harbingers of day ; and it pleases 
you as much to hear them as it must please a 
shipwrecked seaman once again to grasp a hand of 
flesh and blood after years of miserable solitude. 
36 



NUITS BLANCHES 

They have the freshness of the daylight life about 
them. You can hear the carters cracking their 
whips and crying hoarsely to their horses or to one 
another ; and sometimes even a peal of healthy, harsh 
horse-laughter comes up to you through the dark- 
ness. There is now an end of mystery and fear. 
Like the knocking at the door in Macbeth, 1 or the 
cry of the watchman in the Tour de Nesle, they 
show that the horrible caesura is over and the 
nightmares have fled away, because the day is 
breaking and the ordinary life of men is beginning 
to bestir itself among the streets. 

In the middle of it all I fell asleep, to be wakened 
by the officious knocking at my door, and I find 
myself twelve years older than I had dreamed 
myself all night. 



in 

THE WREATH OF IMMORTELLES 

It is all very well to talk of death as 'a pleasant 
potion of immortality ' ; but the most of us, I sus- 
pect, are of ' queasy stomachs,' and find it [none of 
the sweetest. 2 The graveyard may be cloak-room 
to Heaven ; but we must admit that it is a very 
ugly and offensive vestibule in itself, however fair 
may be the life to which it leads. And though 
Enoch and Elias went into the temple through a 

1 See a short essay of De Quincey's. 

2 Beligio Medici, Part ii. 

37 



SKETCHES 

gate which certainly may be called Beautiful, the 
rest of us have to find our way to it through 
Ezekiel's low-bowed door and the vault full of creep- 
ing things and all manner of abominable beasts. 
Nevertheless, there is a certain frame of mind to 
which a cemetery is, if not an antidote, at least an 
alleviation. If you are in a fit of the blues, go 
nowhere else. It was in obedience to this wise 
regulation that the other morning found me lighting 
my pipe at the entrance to Old Greyfriars', thoroughly 
sick of the town, the country, and myself. 

Two of the men were talking at the gate, one of 
them carrying a spade in hands still crusted with the 
soil of graves. Their very aspect was delightful to 
me; and I crept nearer to them, thinking to pick 
up some snatch of sexton gossip, some ' talk fit for a 
charnel,' 1 something, in fine, worthy of that fastidious 
logician, that adept in coroner's law, who has come 
down to us as the patron of Yaughan's liquor, and 
the very prince of gravediggers. Scots people in 
general are so much wrapped up in their profession 
that I had a good chance of overhearing such con- 
versation: the talk of fishmongers running usually on 
stockfish and haddocks ; while of the Scots sexton 
I could repeat stories and speeches that positively 
smell of the graveyard. But on this occasion I was 
doomed to disappointment. My two friends were 
far into the region of generalities. Their profession 
was forgotten in their electorship. Politics had en- 
gulfed the narrower economy of gravedigging. ' Na, 

1 Duchess of Malfi. 
38 



IMMORTELLES 

na,' said the one, 'ye 're a' wrang.' 'The English 
and Irish Churches,' answered the other, in a tone 
as if he had made the remark before, and it had been 
called in question — ' The English and Irish Churches 
have impoverised the country.' 

' Such are the results of education,' thought I as 
I passed beside them and came fairly among the 
tombs. Here, at least, there were no commonplace 
politics, no diluted this-morning's leader, to distract 
or offend me. The old shabby church showed, as 
usual, its quaint extent of roofage and the relievo 
skeleton on one gable, still blackened with the fire 
of thirty years ago. A chill dank mist lay over all. 
The Old Greyfriars churchyard was in perfection 
that morning, and one could go round and reckon 
up the associations with no fear of vulgar interrup- 
tion. On this stone the Covenant was signed. In 
that vault, as the story goes, John Knox took hiding 
in some Reformation broil. From that window 
Burke the murderer looked out many a time across 
the tombs, and perhaps o' nights let himself down 
over the sill to rob some new-made grave. Certainly 
he would have a selection here. The very walks 
have been carried over forgotten resting-places ; and 
the whole ground is uneven, because (as I was once 
quaintly told) 'when the wood rots it stands to 
reason the soil should fall in,' which, from the law 
of gravitation, is certainly beyond denial. But it is 
round the boundary that there are the finest tombs. 
The whole irregular space is, as it were, fringed 
with quaint old monuments, rich in death's-heads 

39 



SKETCHES 

and scythes and hour-glasses, and doubly rich in 
pious epitaphs and Latin mottoes — rich in them to 
such an extent that their proper space has run over, 
and they have crawled end-long up the shafts of 
columns and ensconced themselves in all sorts of odd 
corners among the sculpture. These tombs raise 
their backs against the rabble of squalid dwelling- 
houses, and every here and there a clothes-pole 
projects between two monuments its fluttering 
trophy of white and yellow and red. With a grim 
irony they recall the banners in the Invalides, banners 
as appropriate perhaps over the sepulchres of tailors 
and weavers as these others above the dust of armies. 
Why they put things out to dry on that particular 
morning it was hard to imagine. The grass was 
grey with drops of rain, the headstones black with 
moisture. Yet, in despite of weather and common- 
sense, there they hung between the tombs ; and 
beyond them I could see through open windows 
into miserable rooms where whole families were born 
and fed, and slept and died. At one a girl sat sing- 
ing merrily with her back to the graveyard; and 
from another came the shrill tones of a scolding 
woman. Every here and there was a town garden 
full of sickly flowers, or a pile of crockery inside 
upon the window-seat. But you do not grasp the 
full connection between these houses of the dead 
and the living, the unnatural marriage of stately 
sepulchres and squalid houses, till, lower down, where 
the road has sunk far below the surface of the ceme- 
tery, and the very roofs are scarcely on a level with 
40 



IMMORTELLES 

its wall, you observe that a proprietor has taken ad- 
vantage of a tall monument and trained a chimney- 
stack against its back. It startles you to see the red, 
modern pots peering over the shoulder of the tomb. 

A man was at work on a grave, his spade clinking 
away the drift of bones that permeates the thin 
brown soil ; but my first disappointment had taught 
me to expect little from Greyfriars' sextons, and I 
passed him by in silence. A slater on the slope 
of a neighbouring roof eyed me curiously. A lean 
black cat, looking as if it had battened on strange 
meats, slipped past me. A little boy at a window 
put his finger to his nose in so offensive a manner 
that I was put upon my dignity, and turned grandly 
off to read old epitaphs and peer through the gratings 
into the shadow of vaults. 

Just then I saw two women coming down a path, 
one of them old, and the other younger, with a child 
in her arms. Both had faces eaten with famine and 
hardened with sin, and both had reached that stage 
of degradation, much lower in a woman than a man, 
when all care for dress is lost. As they came down 
they neared a grave, where some pious friend or 
relative had laid a wreath of immortelles, and put 
a bell glass over it, as is the custom. The effect of 
that ring of dull yellow among so many blackened 
and dusty sculptures was more pleasant than it is 
in modern cemeteries, where every second mound 
can boast a similar coronal ; and here, where it 
was the exception and not the rule, I could even 
fancy the drops of moisture that dimmed the cover- 

4i 



SKETCHES 

ing were the tears of those who laid it where it 
was. As the two women came up to it, one of them 
kneeled down on the wet grass and looked long and 
silently through the clouded shade, while the second 
stood above her, gently oscillating to and fro to 
lull the muling baby. I was struck a great way off 
with something religious in the attitude of these two 
unkempt and haggard women ; and I drew near 
faster, but still cautiously, to hear what they were 
saying. Surely on them the spirit of death and 
decay had descended : I had no education to dread 
here : should I not have a chance of seeing nature ? 
Alas ! a pawnbroker could not have been more 
practical and commonplace, for this was what the 
kneeling woman said to the woman upright — this 
and nothing more : ' Eh, what extravagance ! ' 

O nineteenth century, wonderful art thou indeed 
— wonderful, but wearisome in thy stale and deadly 
uniformity. Thy men are more like numerals than 
men. They must bear their idiosyncrasies or their 
professions written on a placard about their neck, 
like the scenery in Shakespeare's theatre. Thy pre- 
cepts of economy have pierced into the lowest ranks 
of life ; and there is now a decorum in vice, a re- 
spectability among the disreputable, a pure spirit 
of Philistinism among the waifs and strays of thy 
Bohemia. For lo ! thy very gravediggers talk 
politics ; and thy castaways kneel upon new graves, 
to discuss the cost of the monument and grumble 
at the improvidence of love. 

Such was the elegant apostrophe that I made as 
42 



IMMORTELLES 

I went out of the gates again, happily satisfied in 
myself, and feeling that I alone of all whom I had 
seen was able to profit by the silent poem of these 
green mounds and blackened headstones. 



IV 

NURSES 

I knew one once, and the room where, lonely and 
old, she waited for death. It was pleasant enough, 
high up above the lane, and looking forth upon a 
hill-side, covered all day with sheets and yellow 
blankets, and with long lines of underclothing 
fluttering between the battered posts. There were 
any number of cheap prints, and a drawing by one 
of 'her children,' and there were flowers in the 
window, and a sickly canary withered into con- 
sumption in an ornamental cage. The bed, with 
its checked coverlid, was in a closet. A great Bible 
lay on the table ; and her drawers were full of 
' scones,' which it was her pleasure to give to young 
visitors such as I was then. 

You may not think this a melancholy picture ; 
but the canary, and the cat, and the white mouse 
that she had for a while, and that died, were all 
indications of the want that ate into her heart. I 
think I know a little of what that old woman felt ; 
and I am as sure as if I had seen her, that she sat 
many an hour in silent tears, with the big Bible 
open before her clouded eyes. 

43 



SKETCHES 

If you could look back upon her life, and feel 
the great chain that had linked her to one child 
after another, sometimes to be wrenched suddenly 
through, and sometimes, which is infinitely worse, 
to be torn gradually off through years of growing 
neglect, or perhaps growing dislike ! She had, like 
the mother, overcome that natural repugnance — 
repugnance which no man can conquer — towards 
the infirm and helpless mass of putty of the earlier 
stage. She had spent her best and happiest years 
in tending, watching, and learning to love like a 
mother this child, with which she has no connection 
and to which she has no tie. Perhaps she refused 
some sweetheart (such things have been), or put him 
off and off, until he lost heart and turned to some 
one else, all for fear of leaving this creature that had 
wound itself about her heart. And the end of it 
all, — her month's warning, and a present perhaps, 
and the rest of the life to vain regret. Or, worse 
still, to see the child gradually forgetting and for- 
saking her, fostered in disrespect and neglect on the 
plea of growing manliness, and at last beginning to 
treat her as a servant whom he had treated a few 
years before as a mother. She sees the Bible or the 
Psalm-book, which with gladness and love unutter- 
able in her heart she had bought for him years ago 
out of her slender savings, neglected for some newer 
gift of his father, lying in dust in the lumber-room 
or given away to a poor child, and the act applauded 
for its unfeeling charity. Little wonder if she be- 
comes hurt and angry, and attempts to tyrannise 
44 



NURSES 

and to grasp her old power back again. We are 
not all patient Grizzels, by good fortune, but the 
most of us human beings with feelings and tempers 
of our own. 

And so in the end, behold her in the room that I 
described. Very likely and very naturally, in some 
fling of feverish misery or recoil of thwarted love, 
she has quarrelled with her old employers and the 
children are forbidden to see her or to speak to her ; 
or at best she gets her rent paid and a little to 
herself, and now and then her late charges are sent 
up (with another nurse, perhaps) to pay her a short 
visit. How bright these visits seem as she looks 
forward to them on her lonely bed ! How unsatis- 
factory their realisation, when the forgetful child, 
half wondering, checks with every word and action 
the outpouring of her maternal love ! How bitter 
and restless the memories that they leave behind ! 
And for the rest, what else has she ? — to watch them 
with eager eyes as they go to school, to sit in church 
where she can see them every Sunday, to be passed 
some day unnoticed in the street, or deliberately cut 
because the great man or the great woman are with 
friends before whom they are ashamed to recognise 
the old woman that loved them. 

When she goes home that night, how lonely will 
the room appear to her ! Perhaps the neighbours 
may hear her sobbing to herself in the dark, with 
the fire burnt out for want of fuel, and the candle 
still unlit upon the table. 

And it is for this that they live, these quasi- 

45 



SKETCHES 

mothers — mothers in everything but the travail and 
the thanks. It is for this that they have remained 
virtuous in youth, living the dull life of a household 
servant. It is for this that they refused the old 
sweetheart, and have no fireside or offspring of their 
own. 

I believe in a better state of things, that there 
will be no more nurses, and that every mother will 
nurse her own offspring ; for what can be more 
hardening and demoralising than to call forth the 
tenderest feelings of a woman's heart and cherish 
them yourself as long as you need them, as long as 
your children require a nurse to love them, and then 
to blight and thwart and destroy them, whenever 
your own use for them is at an end. This may be 
Utopian ; but it is always a little thing if one 
mother or two mothers can be brought to feel more 
tenderly to those who share their toil and have no 
part in their reward. 



v 

A CHARACTER 

The man has a red, bloated face, and his figure is 
short and squat. So far there is nothing m him to 
notice, but when you see his eyes, you can read in 
these hard and shallow orbs a depravity beyond 
measure depraved, a thirst after wickedness, the 
pure, disinterested love of Hell for its own sake. 
The other night, in the street, I was watching an 
46 



A CHARACTER 

omnibus passing with lit-up windows, when I heard 
some one coughing at my side as though he would 
cough his soul out ; and turning round, I saw him 
stopping under a lamp, with a brown greatcoat 
buttoned round him and his whole face convulsed. 
It seemed as if he could not live long ; and so the 
sight set my mind upon a train of thought, as I 
finished my cigar up and down the lighted streets. 

He is old, but all these years have not yet 
quenched his thirst for evil, and his eyes still delight 
themselves in wickedness. He is dumb ; but he 
will not let that hinder his foul trade, or perhaps I 
should say, his yet fouler amusement, and he has 
pressed a slate into the service of corruption. Look 
at him, and he will sign to you with his bloated 
head, and when you go to him in answer to the sign, 
thinking perhaps that the poor dumb man has lost 
his way, you will see what he writes upon his slate. 
He haunts the doors of schools, and shows such 
inscriptions as these to the innocent children that 
come out. He hangs about picture-galleries, and 
makes the noblest pictures the text for some silent 
homily of vice. His industry is a lesson to our- 
selves. Is it not wonderful how he can triumph 
over his infirmities and do such an amount of harm 
without a tongue? Wonderful industry — strange, 
fruitless, pleasureless toil ? Must not the very devil 
feel a soft emotion to see his disinterested and 
laborious service ? Ah, but the devil knows better 
than this : he knows that this man is penetrated 
with the love of evil and that all his pleasure is shut 

47 



SKETCHES 

up in wickedness : he recognises him, perhaps, as a 
fit type for mankind of his satanic self, and watches 
over his effigy as we might watch over a favourite 
likeness. As the business man comes to love the 
toil, which he only looked upon at first as a ladder 
towards other desires and less unnatural gratifica- 
tions, so the dumb man has felt the charm of his 
trade and fallen captivated before the eyes of sin. 
It is a mistake when preachers tell us that vice is 
hideous and loathsome; for even vice has her Horsel 
and her devotees, who love her for her own sake. 



48 



Ill 



COLLEGE PAPERS 



21 D 



49 



Originally printed : 

i. Edinburgh University Magazine, JanuaryiZjl. 
II. Ibid., February 1871. 
in. Ibid., March 1871. 
iv. Ibid., February 187 1. 
v. Ibid., April 1 8,7 1. 

For the history of the short-lived periodical to which 
these papers (now reprinted for the first time) were 
contributed, see the Author's essay e A College 
Magazine' in 'Memories and Portraits' (Miscel- 
lanies, vol. i. of the present edition). A sixth paper 
contributed to the same publication, 'An Old Scots 
Gardener,' is omitted in this place, having been re- 
printed with corrections by the Author himself in 
'Memories and Portraits.' 



COLLEGE PAPERS 



EDINBURGH STUDENTS IN 1824 

On the 2nd of January 1824 was issued the pro- 
spectus of the Lapsus Linguce ; or, the College 
Tatler ; and on the 7th the first number appeared. 
On Friday the 2nd of April « Mr. Tatler became 
speechless.' Its history was not all one success ; for 
the editor (who applies to himself the words of Iago, 
* I am nothing if I am not critical ') overstepped the 
bounds of caution, and found himself seriously em- 
broiled with the powers that were. There appeared 
in No. xvi. a most bitter satire upon Sir John Leslie, 
in which he was compared to Falstaff, charged with 
puffing himself, and very prettily censured for pub- 
lishing only the first volume of a class-book, and 
making all purchasers pay for both. Sir John Leslie 
took up the matter angrily, visited Carfrae the pub- 
lisher, and threatened him with an action, till he was 
forced to turn the hapless Lapsus out of doors. The 
maltreated periodical found shelter in the shop of 
Huie, Infirmary Street; and No. xvil. was duly 

5i 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

issued from the new office. No. xvn. beheld Mr. 
Tatter's humiliation, in which, with fulsome apology 
and not very credible assurances of respect and 
admiration, he disclaims the article in question, and 
advertises a new issue of No. xvi. with all objection- 
able matter omitted. This, with pleasing euphemism, 
he terms in a later advertisement, *a new and im- 
proved edition.' This was the only remarkable 
adventure of Mr. Tatter's brief existence ; unless we 
consider as such a silly Chaldee manuscript in imita- 
tion of Blackwood, and a letter of reproof from a 
divinity student on the impiety of the same dull 
effusion. He laments the near approach of his end 
in pathetic terms, ' How shall we summon up suffi- 
cient courage,' says he, 'to look for the last time on 
our beloved little devil and his inestimable proof- 
sheet? How shall we be able to pass No. 14 In- 
firmary Street and feel that all its attractions are 
over ? How shall we bid farewell for ever to that 
excellent man, with the long greatcoat, wooden leg 
and wooden board, who acts as our representative at 
the gate of Alma Mater V But alas! he had no 
choice : Mr. Tatter, whose career, he says himself, 
had been successful, passed peacefully away, and has 
ever since dumbly implored * the bringing home of 
bell and burial.' 

Alter et idem. A very different affair was the 
Lapsus Lingua? from the Edinburgh University 
Magazine. The two prospectuses alone, laid side 
by side, would indicate the march of luxury and the 
repeal of the paper duty The penny bi-weekly 
52 



EDINBURGH STUDENTS 

broadside of session 1823-4 was almost wholly- 
dedicated to Momus. Epigrams, pointless letters, 
amorous verses, and University grievances are the 
continual burthen of the song. But Mr. Toiler was 
not without a vein of hearty humour ; and his pages 
afford what is much better : to wit, a good picture of 
student life as it then was. The students of those 
polite days insisted on retaining their hats in the 
class-room. There was a cab-stance in front of the 
College ; and * Carriage Entrance ' was posted above 
the main arch, on what the writer pleases to call 

* coarse, unclassic boards.' The benches of the 

* Speculative ' then, as now, were red ; but all other 
Societies (the i Dialectic ' is the only survivor) met 
down-stairs, in some rooms of which it is pointedly 
said that ' nothing else could conveniently be made 
of them.' However horrible these dungeons may 
have been, it is certain that they were paid for, and 
that far too heavily for the taste of session 1823-4, 
which found enough calls upon its purse for porter 
and toasted cheese at Ambrose's, or cranberry tarts 
and ginger-wine at Doull's. Duelling was still a 
possibility ; so much so that when two medicals fell 
to fisticuffs in Adam Square, it was seriously hinted 
that single combat would be the result. Last and 
most wonderful of all, Gall and Spurzheim were 
in every one's mouth ; and the Law student, after 
having exhausted Byron's poetry and Scott's novels, 
informed the ladies of his belief in phrenology. In 
the present day he would dilate on ' Red as a rose is 
she, and then mention that he attends Old Grey- 

53 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

friars', as a tacit claim to intellectual superiority. I 
do not know that the advance is much. 

But Mr. Tatlers best performances were three 
short papers in which he hit off pretty smartly the 
idiosyncrasies of the ' Divinity ',' the ' Medical,' and 
the * Law ' of session 1823-4. The fact that there was 
no notice of the ' Arts' seems to suggest that they 
stood in the same intermediate position as they do 
now — the epitome of student- kind. Mr. Tatlers 
satire is, on the whole, good-humoured, and has not 
grown superannuated in all its limbs. His descrip- 
tions may limp at some points, but there are certain 
broad traits that apply equally well to session 1870- 
71. He shows us the Divinity of the period — tall, 
pale, and slender — his collar greasy, and his coat 
bare about the seams — ' his white neckcloth serving 
four days, and regularly turned the third,' — * the rim 
of his hat deficient in wool,' — and ' a weighty volume 
of theology under his arm.' He was the man to buy 
cheap ' a snuff-box, or a dozen of pencils, or a six- 
bladed knife, or a quarter of a hundred quills,' at 
any of the public sale-rooms. He was noted for 
cheap purchases, and for exceeding the legal tender 
in halfpence. He haunted ' the darkest and remotest 
corner of the Theatre Gallery.' He was to be seen 
issuing from 'aerial lodging-houses.' Withal, says 
mine author, 'there were many good points about 
him : he paid his landlady's bill, read his Bible, went 
twice to church on Sunday, seldom swore, was not 
often tipsy, and bought the Lapsus Linguas.'' 

The Medical, again, ' wore a white greatcoat, and 
54 



EDINBURGH STUDENTS 

consequently talked loud ' — (there is something very 
delicious in that consequently). He wore his hat on 
one side. He was active, volatile, and went to the 
top of Arthur's Seat on the Sunday forenoon. He 
was as quiet in a debating society as he was loud in 
the streets. He was reckless and imprudent : yester- 
day he insisted on your sharing a bottle of claret 
with him (and claret was claret then, before the 
cheap-and-nasty treaty), and to-morrow he asks you 
for the loan of a penny to buy the last number of 
the Lapsus. 

The student of Law, again, was a learned man. 
' He had turned over the leaves of Justinian's Insti- 
tutes, and knew that they were written in Latin. 
He was well acquainted with the title-page of Black- 
stone's Commentaries, and argal (as the gravedigger 
in Hamlet says) he was not a person to be laughed 
at.' He attended the Parliament House in the 
character of a critic, and could give you stale sneers 
at all the celebrated speakers. He was the terror 
of essayists at the Speculative or the Forensic. In 
social qualities he seems to have stood unrivalled. 
Even in the police-office we find him shining with 
undiminished lustre. ' If a Charlie should find him 
rather noisy at an untimely hour, and venture to 
take him into custody, he appears next morning like 
a Daniel come to judgment. He opens his mouth 
to speak, and the divine precepts of unchanging 
justice and Scots law flow from his tongue. The 
magistrate listens in amazement, and fines him only 
a couple of guineas.' 

55 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

Such then were our predecessors and their College 
Magazine. Barclay, Ambrose, Young Amos, and 
Fergusson were to them what the Cafe, the Rain- 
bow, and Rutherford's are to us. An hour's reading 
in these old pages absolutely confuses us, there is so 
much that is similar and so much that is different ; 
the follies and amusements are so like our own, and 
the manner of frolicking and enjoying are so changed, 
that one pauses and looks about him in philosophic 
judgment. The muddy quadrangle is thick with 
living students ; but in our eyes it swarms also with 
the phantasmal white greatcoats and tilted hats of 
1824. Two races meet : races alike and diverse. 
Two performances are played before our eyes ; but 
the change seems merely of impersonators, of scenery, 
of costume. Plot and passion are the same. It is 
the fall of the spun shilling whether seventy-one or 
twenty-four has the best of it. 

In a future number we hope to give a glance at 
the individualities of the present, and see whether 
the cast shall be head or tail — whether we or the 
readers of the Lapsus stand higher in the balance. 



ii 

THE MODERN STUDENT CONSIDERED 
GENERALLY 

We have now reached the difficult portion of our 
task. Mr. Toiler, for all that we care, may have 
been as virulent as he liked about the students of a 
56 



THE MODERN STUDENT 

former day ; but for the iron to touch our sacred 
selves, for a brother of the Guild to betray its most 
privy infirmities, let such a Judas look to himself 
as he passes on his way to the Scots Law or the 
Diagnostic, below the solitary lamp at the corner 
of the dark quadrangle. We confess that this idea 
alarms us. We enter a protest. We bind ourselves 
over verbally to keep the peace. We hope, more- 
over, that having thus made you secret to our 
misgivings, you will excuse us if we be dull, and set 
that down to caution which you might before have 
charged to the account of stupidity. 

The natural tendency of civilisation is to obliterate 
those distinctions which are the best salt of life. 
All the fine old professional flavour in language has 
evaporated. Your very gravedigger has forgotten 
his avocation in his electorship, and would quibble 
on the Franchise over Ophelia's grave, instead of 
more appropriately discussing the duration of bodies 
under ground. From this tendency, from this 
gradual attrition of life, in which everything pointed 
and characteristic is being rubbed down, till the 
whole world begins to slip between our fingers in 
smooth undistinguishable sands, from this, we say, it 
follows that we must not attempt to join 3Ir. Tatler 
in his simple division of students into Law, Divinity, 
and Medical. Now-a-days the Faculties may shake 
hands over their follies ; and, like Mrs. Frail and 
Mrs. Foresight (in Love for Love) they may stand 
in the doors of opposite class-rooms, crying : ' Sister, 
Sister — Sister everyway ! ' A few restrictions, indeed, 

57 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

remain to influence the followers of individual 
branches of study. The Divinity, for example, must 
be an avowed believer ; and as this, in the present 
day, is unhappily considered by many as a confession 
of weakness, he is fain to choose one of two ways of 
gilding the distasteful orthodox bolus. Some swallow 
it in a thin jelly of metaphysics ; for it is even a 
credit to believe in God on the evidence of some 
crack-jaw philosopher, although it is a decided slur 
to believe in Him on His own authority. Others 
again (and this we think the worst method), finding 
German grammar a somewhat dry morsel, run their 
own little heresy as a proof of independence; and 
deny one of the cardinal doctrines that they may 
hold the others without being laughed at. 

Besides, however, such influences as these, there 
is little more distinction between the faculties than 
the traditionary ideal, handed down through a long 
sequence of students, and getting rounder and more 
featureless at each successive session. The plague of 
uniformity has descended on the College. Students 
(and indeed all sorts and conditions of men) now 
require their faculty and character hung round their 
neck on a placard, like the scenes in Shakespeare's 
theatre. And in the midst of all this weary same- 
ness, not the least common feature is the gravity of 
every face. No more does the merry medical run 
eagerly in the clear winter morning up the rugged 
sides of Arthur's Seat, and hear the church bells 
begin and thicken and die away below him among 
the gathered smoke of the city. He will not break 
" 58 



THE MODERN STUDENT 

Sunday to so little purpose. He no longer finds 
pleasure in the mere output of his surplus energy. 
He husbands his strength, and lays out walks, and 
reading, and amusement with deep consideration, so 
that he may get as much work and pleasure out of 
his body as he can, and waste none of his energy on 
mere impulse, or such flat enjoyment as an excursion 
in the country. 

See the quadrangle in the interregnum of classes, 
in those two or three minutes when it is full of 
passing students, and we think you will admit that, 
if we have not made it * an habitation of dragons,' 
we have at least transformed it into 'a court for 
owls.' Solemnity broods heavily over the enclosure ; 
and wherever you seek it, you will find a dearth of 
merriment, an absence of real youthful enjoyment. 
You might as well try 

' To move wild laughter in the throat of death/ 

as to excite any healthy stir among the bulk of this 
staid company. 

The studious congregate about the doors of the 
different classes, debating the matter of the lecture, 
or comparing note-books. A reserved rivalry sunders 
them. Here are some deep in Greek particles : 
there, others are already inhabitants of that land 

f Where entity and quiddity, 
Like ghosts of defunct bodies fly- 
Where Truth in person does appear 
Like words congealed in northern air.' 

But none of them seem to find any relish for their 

59 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

studies — no pedantic love of this subject or that 
lights up their eyes — science and learning are only 
means for a livelihood, which they have consider- 
ately embraced and which they solemnly pursue. 
'Labour's pale priests,' their lips seem incapable of 
laughter, except in the way of polite recognition 
of professorial wit. The stains of ink are chronic on 
their meagre fingers. They walk like Saul among 
the asses. 

The dandies are not less subdued. In 1824 there 
was a noisy dapper dandyism abroad. Vulgar, as we 
should now think, but yet genial — a matter of white 
greatcoats and loud voices — strangely different from 
the stately frippery that is rife at present. These 
men are out of their element in the quadrangle. 
Even the small remains of boisterous humour, which 
still clings to any collection of young men, jars pain- 
fully on their morbid sensibilities ; and they beat 
a hasty retreat to resume their perfunctory march 
along Princes Street. Flirtation is to them a great 
social duty, a painful obligation, which they perform 
on every occasion in the same chill official manner, 
and with the same commonplace advances, the 
same dogged observance of traditional behaviour. 
The shape of their raiment is a burden almost 
greater than they can bear, and they halt in their 
walk to preserve the due adjustment of their trouser- 
knees, till one would fancy he had mixed in a 
procession of Jacobs. We speak, of course, for 
ourselves ; but we would as soon associate with a 
herd of sprightly apes as with these gloomy modern 
60 



THE MODERN STUDENT 

beaux. Alas, that our Mirabels, our Valentines, 
even our Brummels, should have left their mantles 
upon nothing more amusing ! 

Nor are the fast men less constrained. Solemnity, 
even in dissipation, is the order of the day ; and 
they go to the devil with a perverse seriousness, a 
systematic rationalism of wickedness that would 
have surprised the simpler sinners of old. Some of 
these men whom we see gravely conversing on the 
steps have but a slender acquaintance with each 
other. Their intercourse consists principally of 
mutual bulletins of depravity ; and, week after week, 
as they meet they reckon up their items of trans- 
gression, and give an abstract of their downward 
progress for approval and encouragement. These 
folk form a freemasonry of their own. An oath is 
the shibboleth of their sinister fellowship. Once 
they hear a man swear, it is wonderful how their 
tongues loosen and their bashful spirits take enlarge- 
ment, under the consciousness of brotherhood. 
There is no folly, no pardoning warmth of temper 
about them ; they are as steady-going and systematic 
in their own way as the studious in theirs. 

Not that we are without merry men. No. We 
shall not be ungrateful to those, whose grimaces, 
whose ironical laughter, whose active feet in the 
College Anthem have beguiled so many weary hours 
and added a pleasant variety to the strain of close 
attention. But even these are too evidently pro- 
fessional in their antics. They go about cogitating 
puns and inventing tricks. It is their vocation, 

6 1 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

Hal. They are the gratuitous jesters of the class- 
room ; and, like the clown when he leaves the stage, 
their merriment too often sinks as the bell rings 
the hour of liberty, and they pass forth by the Post- 
Office, grave and sedate, and meditating fresh 
gambols for the morrow. 

This is the impression left on the mind of any 
observing student by too many of his fellows. They 
seem all frigid old men ; and one pauses to think 
how such an unnatural state of matters is produced. 
We feel inclined to blame for it the unfortunate 
absence of University feeling which is so marked a 
characteristic of our Edinburgh students. Academical 
interests are so few and far between — students, as 
students, have so little in common, except a peevish 
rivalry — there is such an entire want of broad college 
sympathies and ordinary college friendships, that 
we fancy that no University in the kingdom is in 
so poor a plight. Our system is full of anomalies. 
A, who cut B whilst he was a shabby student, curries 
sedulously up to him and cudgels his memory for 
anecdotes about him when he becomes the great 
so-and-so. Let there be an end of this shy, proud 
reserve on the one hand, and this shuddering fine- 
ladyism on the other; and we think we shall find 
both ourselves and the College bettered. Let it be 
a sufficient reason for intercourse that two men sit 
together on the same benches. Let the great A be 
held excused for nodding to the shabby B in Princes 
Street, if he can say, 'That fellow is a student.' 
Once this could be brought about, we think you 
62 



THE MODERN STUDENT 

would find the whole heart of the University beat 
faster. We think you would find a fusion among 
the students, a growth of common feelings, an in- 
creasing sympathy between class and class, whose 
influence (in such a heterogeneous company as ours) 
might be of incalculable value in all branches of 
politics and social progress. It would do more than 
this. If we could find some method of making 
the University a real mother to her sons — something 
beyond a building full of class-rooms, a Senatus and 
a lottery of somewhat shabby prizes — we should 
strike a death-blow at the constrained and unnatural 
attitude of our Society. At present we are not a 
united body, but a loose gathering of individuals, 
whose inherent attraction is allowed to condense 
them into little knots and coteries. Our last snow- 
ball riot read us a plain lesson on our condition. 
There was no party spirit — no unity of interests. 
A few, who were mischievously inclined, marched 
off to the College of Surgeons in a pretentious file ; 
but even before they reached their destination the 
feeble inspiration had died out in many, and their 
numbers were sadly thinned. Some followed strange 
gods in the direction of Drummond Street, and others 
slunk back to meek good-boyism at the feet of the 
Professors. The same is visible in better things. 
As you send a man to an English University that 
he may have his prejudices rubbed off, you might 
send him to Edinburgh that he may have them 
ingrained — rendered indelible — fostered by sympathy 
into living principles of his spirit. And the reason 

63 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

of it is quite plain. From this absence of University 
feeling it comes that a man's friendships are always 
the direct and immediate results of these very pre- 
judices. A common weakness is the best master of 
ceremonies in our quadrangle : a mutual vice is the 
readiest introduction. The studious associate with 
the studious alone — the dandies with the dandies. 
There is nothing to force them to rub shoulders 
with the others ; and so they grow day by day more 
wedded to their own original opinions and affections. 
They see through the same spectacles continually. 
All broad sentiments, all real catholic humanity 
expires ; and the mind gets gradually stiffened into 
one position — becomes so habituated to a contracted 
atmosphere, that it shudders and withers under 
the least draught of the free air that circulates in 
the general field of mankind. 

Specialism in Society then, is, we think, one cause 
of our present state. Specialism in study is another. 
We doubt whether this has ever been a good thing 
since the world began ; but we are sure it is much 
worse now than it was. Formerly, when a man 
became a specialist, it was out of affection for his 
subject. With a somewhat grand devotion he left 
all the world of Science to follow his true love ; and 
he contrived to find that strange pedantic interest 
which inspired the man who 

' Settled Hoti's business — let it be — 
Properly based Oun — 
Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De, 
Dead from the waist down.' 

6 4 



THE MODERN STUDENT 

Now-a-days it is quite different. Our pedantry 
wants even the saving clause of Enthusiasm. The 
election is now matter of necessity and not of 
choice. Knowledge is now too broad a field for your 
Jack-of-all-Trades ; and, from beautifully utilitarian 
reasons, he makes his choice, draws his pen through 
a dozen branches of study, and behold — John the 
Specialist. That this is the way to be wealthy we 
shall not deny ; but we hold that it is not the way 
to be healthy or wise. The whole mind becomes 
narrowed and circumscribed to one * punctual spot ' 
of knowledge. A rank unhealthy soil breeds a 
harvest of prejudices. Feeling himself above others 
in his one little branch — in the classification of toad- 
stools, or Carthaginian history — he waxes great in 
his own eyes and looks down on others. Having 
all his sympathies educated in one way, they die out 
in every other; and he is apt to remain a peevish, 
narrow, and intolerant bigot. Dilettante is now a 
term of reproach ; but there is a certain form of 
dilettantism to which no one can object. It is this 
that we want among our students. We wish them 
to abandon no subject until they have seen and felt 
its merit — to act under a general interest in all 
branches of knowledge, not a commercial eagerness 
to excel in one. 

In both these directions our sympathies are con- 
stipated. We are apostles of our own caste and our 
own subject of study, instead of being, as we should, 
true men and loving students. Of course both of 
these could be corrected by the students themselves ; 
21— e 65 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

but this is nothing to the purpose : it is more im- 
portant to ask whether the Senatus or the body 
of alumni could do nothing towards the growth of 
better feeling and wider sentiments. Perhaps in 
another paper we may say something upon this 
head. 

One other word, however, before we have done. 
What shall we be when we grow really old? Of 
yore, a man was thought to lay on restrictions and 
acquire new deadweight of mournful experience 
with every year, till he looked back on his youth as 
the very summer of impulse and freedom. We 
please ourselves with thinking that it cannot be so 
with us. We would fain hope that, as we have 
begun in one way, we may end in another ; and that 
when we are in fact the octogenarians that we seem 
at present, there shall be no merrier men on earth. 
It is pleasant to picture us, sunning ourselves in 
Princes Street of a morning, or chirping over our 
evening cups, with all the merriment that we wanted 
in youth. 



in 

DEBATING SOCIETIES 

A debating society is at first somewhat of a dis- 
appointment. You do not often find the youthful 
Demosthenes chewing his pebbles in the same room 
with you ; or, even if you do, you will probably 
66 



DEBATING SOCIETIES 

think the performance little to be admired. As a 
general rule, the members speak shamefully ill. The 
subjects of debate are heavy ; and so are the fines. 
The Ballot Question — oldest of dialectic nightmares 
— is often found astride of a somnolent sederunt. 
The Greeks and Romans, too, are reserved as sort 
of general-utility men, to do all the dirty work of 
illustration ; and they fill as many functions as the 
famous waterfall scene at the Princess's, which I 
found doing duty on one evening as a gorge in Peru, 
a haunt of German robbers, and a peaceful vale in 
the Scottish borders. There is a sad absence of 
striking argument or real lively discussion. Indeed, 
you feel a growing contempt for your fellow-mem- 
bers ; and it is not until you rise yourself to hawk 
and hesitate and sit shamefully down again, amid 
eleemosynary applause, that you begin to find your 
level and value others rightly. Even then, even 
when failure has damped your critical ardour, you 
will see many things to be laughed at in the deport- 
ment of your rivals. 

Most laughable, perhaps, are your indefatigable 
strivers after eloquence. They are of those who 
* pursue with eagerness the phantoms of hope,' and 
who, since they expect that 'the deficiencies of last 
sentence will be supplied by the next,' have been 
recommended by Dr. Samuel Johnson to ' attend to 
the History of Basselas, Prince of Abyssinia.' They 
are characterised by a hectic hopefulness. Nothing 
damps them. They rise from the ruins of one abor- 
tive sentence, to launch forth into another with 

67 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

unabated vigour. They have all the manner of an 
orator. From the tone of their voice, you would 
expect a splendid period — and lo ! a string of broken- 
backed, disjointed clauses, eked out with stammer- 
ings and throat-clearings. They possess the art 
(learned from the pulpit) of rounding an un- 
euphonious sentence by dwelling on a single syllable 
— of striking a balance in a top-heavy period by 
lengthening out a word into a melancholy quaver. 
Withal, they never cease to hope. Even at last, 
even when they have exhausted all their ideas, even 
after the would-be peroration has finally refused to 
perorate, they remain upon their feet with their 
mouths open, waiting for some further inspiration, 
like Chaucer's widow's son in the dung-hole, after 

' His throat was kit unto the nekke bone/ 

in vain expectation of that seed that was to be laid 
upon his tongue, and give him renewed and clearer 
utterance. 

These men may have something to say, if they 
could only say it — indeed they generally have ; but 
the next class are people who, having nothing to say, 
are cursed with a facility and an unhappy command 
of words, that makes them the prime nuisances of 
the society they affect. They try to cover their 
absence of matter by an unwholesome vitality of 
delivery. They look triumphantly round the room, 
as if courting applause, after a torrent of diluted 
truism. They talk in a circle, harping on the same 
dull round of argument, and returning again and 
68 



DEBATING SOCIETIES 

again to the same remark with the same sprightli- 
ness, the same irritating appearance of novelty. 

After this set, any one is tolerable; so we shall 
merely hint at a few other varieties. There is your 
man who is pre-eminently conscientious, whose face 
beams with sincerity as he opens on the negative, 
and who votes on the affirmative at the end, looking 
round the room with an air of chastened pride. 
There is also the irrelevant speaker, who rises, emits 
a joke or two, and then sits down again, without 
ever attempting to tackle the subject of debate. 
Again, we have men who ride pick-a-back on their 
family reputation, or, if their family have none, 
identify themselves with some well-known states- 
man, use his opinions, and lend him their patronage 
on all occasions. This is a dangerous plan, and 
serves oftener, I am afraid, to point a difference than 
to adorn a speech. 

But alas ! a striking failure may be reached without 
tempting Providence by any of these ambitious tricks. 
Our own stature will be found high enough for shame. 
The success of three simple sentences lures us into 
a fatal parenthesis in the fourth, from whose shut 
brackets we may never disentangle the thread of our 
discourse. A momentary flush tempts us into a quo- 
tation ; and we may be left helpless in the middle 
of one of Pope's couplets, a white film gathering 
before our eyes, and our kind friends charitably 
trying to cover our disgrace by a feeble round of 
applause. Amis lecteurs, this is a painful topic. It 
is possible that we too, we, the * potent, grave, and 

69 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

reverend ' editor, may have suffered these things, 
and drunk as deep as any of the cup of shameful 
failure. Let ,us dwell no longer on so delicate a 
subject. 

In spite, however, of these disagreeables, I should 
recommend any student to suffer them with Spartan 
courage, as the benefits he receives should repay him 
an hundredfold for them all. The life of the debat- 
ing society is a handy antidote to the life of the 
class-room and quadrangle. Nothing could be con- 
ceived more excellent as a weapon against many of 
those peccant humours that we have been railing 
against in the Jeremiad of our last College Paper — 
particularly in the field of intellect. It is a sad sight 
to see our heather-scented students, our boys of seven- 
teen, coming up to College with determined views 
— roues in speculation — having gauged the vanity 
of philosophy or learned to shun it as the middle- 
man of heresy — a company of determined, deliberate 
opinionists, not to be moved by all the sleights of 
logic. What have such men to do with study ? If 
their minds are made up irrevocably, why burn the 
* studious lamp ' in search of further confirmation ? 
Every set opinion I hear a student deliver I feel 
a certain lowering of my regard. He who studies, 
he who is yet employed in groping for his premises, 
should keep his mind fluent and sensitive, keen to 
mark flaws, and willing to surrender untenable posi- 
tions. He should keep himself teachable, or cease 
the expensive farce of being taught. It is to further 
this docile spirit that we desire to press the claims of 
70 



DEBATING SOCIETIES 

debating societies. It is as a means of melting down 
this museum of premature petrifactions into living 
and impressionable soul that we insist on their utility. 
If we could once prevail on our students to feel no 
shame in avowing an uncertain attitude towards any 
subject, if we could teach them that it was unneces- 
sary for every lad to have his opinionette on every 
topic, we should have gone a far way towards bracing 
the intellectual tone of the coming race of thinkers ; 
and this it is which debating societies are so well 
fitted to perform. 

We there meet people of every shade of opinion, 
and make friends with them. We are taught to 
rail against a man the whole session through, and 
then hob-a-nob with him at the concluding enter- 
tainment. We find men of talent far exceeding our 
own, whose conclusions are widely different from 
ours ; and we are thus taught to distrust ourselves. 
But the best means of all towards catholicity is that 
wholesome rule which some folk are most inclined 
to condemn, — I mean the law of obliged speeches. 
Your senior member commands ; and you must take 
the affirmative or the negative, just as suits his 
best convenience. This tends to the most perfect 
liberality. It is no good hearing the arguments of 
an opponent, for in good verity you rarely follow 
them ; and even if you do take the trouble to listen, 
it is merely in a captious search for weaknesses. 
This is proved, I fear, in every debate ; when you 
hear each speaker arguing out his own prepared 
speciality (he never intended speaking, of course, 

7i 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

until some remarks of, etc.), arguing out, I say, his 
own coached-up subject without the least attention 
to what has gone before, as utterly at sea about the 
drift of his adversary's speech as Pan urge when he 
argued with Thaumaste, and merely linking his own 
prelection to the last by a few flippant criticisms. 
Now, as the rule stands, you are saddled with the 
side you disapprove, and so you are forced, by regard 
for your own fame, to argue out, to feel with, to 
elaborate completely, the case as it stands against 
yourself; and what a fund of wisdom do you not 
turn up in this idle digging of the vineyard ! How 
many new difficulties take form before your eyes ? 
how many superannuated arguments cripple finally 
into limbo, under the glance of your enforced 
eclecticism ! 

Nor is this the only merit of Debating Societies. 
They tend also to foster taste, and to promote 
friendship between University men. This last, as 
we have had occasion before to say, is the great 
requirement of our student life ; and it will there- 
fore be no waste of time if we devote a paragraph 
to this subject in its connection with Debating 
Societies. At present they partake too much of the 
nature of a clique. Friends propose friends, and 
mutual friends second them, until the society de- 
generates into a sort of family party. You may 
confirm old acquaintances, but you can rarely make 
new ones. You find yourself in the atmosphere 
of your own daily intercourse. Now, this is an 
unfortunate circumstance, which it seems to me 
72 



DEBATING SOCIETIES 

might readily be rectified. Our Principal has shown 
himself so friendly towards all College improvements 
that I cherish the hope of seeing shortly realised a 
certain suggestion, which is not a new one with me, 
and which must often have been proposed and can- 
vassed heretofore — I mean, a real University Debat- 
ing Society, patronised by the Senatus, presided over 
by the Professors, to which every one might gain 
ready admittance on sight of his matriculation ticket, 
where it would be a favour and not a necessity to 
speak, and where the obscure student might have 
another object for attendance besides the mere desire 
to save his fines : to wit, the chance of drawing on 
himself the favourable consideration of his teachers. 
This would be merely following in the good ten- 
dency, which has been so noticeable during all this 
session, to increase and multiply student societies 
and clubs of every sort. Nor would it be a matter 
of much difficulty. The united societies would form 
a nucleus : one of the class-rooms at first, and per- 
haps afterwards the great hall above the library, 
might be the place of meeting. There would be no 
want of attendance or enthusiasm, I am sure ; for 
it is a very different thing to speak under the bushel 
of a private club on the one hand, and, on the other, 
in a public place, where a happy period or a subtle 
argument may do the speaker permanent service 
in after life. Such a club might end, perhaps, by 
rivalling the ' Union ' at Cambridge or the ' Union ' 
at Oxford. 



73 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

IV 

THE PHILOSOPHY OF UMBRELLAS 1 

It is wonderful to think what a turn has been given 
to our whole Society by the fact that we live under 
the sign of Aquarius, — that our climate is essentially 
wet. A mere arbitrary distinction, like the walking- 
swords of yore, might have remained the symbol of 
foresight and respectability, had not the raw mists 
and dropping showers of our island pointed the in- 
clination of Society to another exponent of those 
virtues. A ribbon of the Legion of Honour or a 
string of medals may prove a person's courage ; a 
title may prove his birth ; a professorial chair his 
study and acquirement ; but it is the habitual car- 
riage of the umbrella that is the stamp of Respect- 
ability. The umbrella has become the acknowledged 
index of social position. 

Robinson Crusoe presents us with a touching in- 
stance of the hankering after them inherent in the 
civilised and educated mind. To the superficial, 
the hot suns of Juan Fernandez may sufficiently 
account for his quaint choice of a luxury ; but 
surely one who had borne the hard labour of a 
seaman under the tropics for all these years could 
have supported an excursion after goats or a peace- 

1 ' This paper was written in collaboration with James Walter Ferrier, 
and if reprinted this is to be stated, though his principal collaboration 
was to lie back in an easy-chair and laugh.' — [R.L.S., Oct. 25, 1894.] 

74 



PHILOSOPHY OF UMBRELLAS 

ful constitutional arm in arm with the nude Friday. 
No, it was not this : the memory of a vanished 
respectability called for some outward manifestation, 
and the result was — an umbrella. A pious castaway 
might have rigged up a belfry and solaced his Sun- 
day mornings with the mimicry of church-bells ; but 
Crusoe was rather a moralist than a pietist, and his 
leaf-umbrella is as fine an example of the civilised 
mind striving to express itself under adverse circum- 
stances as we have ever met with. 

It is not for nothing, either, that the umbrella has 
become the very foremost badge of modern civilisa- 
tion — the Urim and Thummim of respectability. Its 
pregnant symbolism has taken its rise in the most 
natural manner. Consider, for a moment, when 
umbrellas were first introduced into this country, 
what manner of men would use them, and what 
class would adhere to the useless but ornamental 
cane. The first, without doubt, would be the hypo- 
chondriacal, out of solicitude for their health, or the 
frugal, out of care for their raiment ; the second, it 
is equally plain, would include the fop, the fool, and 
the Bobadil. Any one acquainted with the growth 
of Society, and knowing out of what small seeds of 
cause are produced great revolutions, and wholly 
new conditions of intercourse, sees from this simple 
thought how the carriage of an umbrella came to 
indicate frugality, judicious regard for bodily welfare, 
and scorn for mere outward adornment, and, in 
one word, all those homely and solid virtues im- 
plied in the term respectability. Not that the 

75 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

umbrella's costliness has nothing to do with its great 
influence. Its possession, besides symbolising (as 
we have already indicated) the change from wild 
Esau to plain Jacob dwelling in tents, implies a 
certain comfortable provision of fortune. It is not 
every one that can expose twenty-six shillings' worth 
of property to so many chances of loss and theft. 
So strongly do we feel on this point, indeed, that 
we are almost inclined to consider all who possess 
really well-conditioned umbrellas as worthy of the 
Franchise. They have a qualification standing in 
their lobbies ; they carry a sufficient stake in the 
common-weal below their arm. One who bears 
with him an umbrella — such a complicated structure 
of whalebone, of silk, and of cane, that it becomes a 
very microcosm of modern industry — is necessarily a 
man of peace. A half-crown cane may be applied to 
an offender's head on a very moderate provocation ; 
but a six-and-twenty 'shilling silk is a possession too 
precious to be adventured in the shock of war. 

These are but a few glances at how umbrellas 
(in the general) came to their present high estate. 
But the true Umbrella-Philosopher meets with far 
stranger applications as he goes about the streets. 

Umbrellas, like faces, acquire a certain sympathy 
with the individual who carries them : indeed, they 
are far more capable of betraying his trust ; for 
whereas a face is given to us so far ready made, 
and all our power over it is in frowning, and laugh- 
ing, and grimacing, during the first three or four 
decades of life, each umbrella is selected from a 
76 



PHILOSOPHY OF UMBRELLAS 

whole shopful, as being most consonant to the 
purchaser's disposition. An undoubted power of 
diagnosis rests with the practised Umbrella-philo- 
sopher. O you who lisp, and amble, and change 
the fashion of your countenances — you who conceal 
all these, how little do you think that you left a 
proof of your weakness in our umbrella-stand — that 
even now, as you shake out the folds to meet the 
thickening snow, we read in its ivory handle the 
outward and visible sign of your snobbery, or from 
the exposed gingham of its cover detect, through 
coat and waistcoat, the hidden hypocrisy of the 
* dickey '! But alas ! even the umbrella is no certain 
criterion. The falsity and the folly of the human 
race have degraded that graceful symbol to the ends 
of dishonesty ; and while some umbrellas, from care- 
lessness in selection, are not strikingly characteristic 
(for it is only in what a man loves that he displays 
his real nature), others, from certain prudential 
motives, are chosen directly opposite to the per- 
son's disposition. A mendacious umbrella is a sign 
of great moral degradation. Hypocrisy naturally 
shelters itself below a silk ; while the fast youth goes 
to visit his religious friends armed with the decent 
and reputable gingham. May it not be said of the 
bearers of these inappropriate umbrellas that they go 
about the streets ' with a lie in their right hand ' ? 

The kings of Siam, as we read, besides having 
a graduated social scale of umbrellas (which was a 
good thing), prevented the great bulk of their sub- 
jects from having any at all, which was certainly a 

77 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

bad thing. We should be sorry to believe that this 
Eastern legislator was a fool — the idea of an aris- 
tocracy of umbrellas is too philosophic to have 
originated in a nobody, — and we have accordingly 
taken exceeding pains to find out the reason of this 
harsh restriction. We think we have succeeded; 
but, while admiring the principle at which he aimed, 
and while cordially recognising in the Siamese 
potentate the only man before ourselves who 
had taken a real grasp of the umbrella, we must 
be allowed to point out how unphilosophically the 
great man acted in this particular. His object, 
plainly, was to prevent any unworthy persons from 
bearing the sacred symbol of domestic virtues. We 
cannot excuse his limiting these virtues to the circle 
of his court. We must only remember that such 
was the feeling of the age in which he lived. 
Liberalism had not yet raised the war-cry of the 
working classes. But here was his mistake : it was 
a needless regulation. Except in a very few cases 
of hypocrisy joined to a powerful intellect, men, not 
by nature umbrellarians, have tried again and again 
to become so by art, and yet have failed — have ex- 
pended their patrimony in the purchase of umbrella 
after umbrella, and yet have systematically lost 
them, and have finally, with contrite spirits and 
shrunken purses, given up their vain struggle, and 
relied on theft and , borrowing for the remainder of 
their lives. This is the most remarkable fact that 
we have had occasion to notice ; and yet we 
challenge the candid reader to call it in question. 

78 



PHILOSOPHY OF UMBRELLAS 

Now, as there cannot be any moral selection in a 
mere dead piece of furniture — as the umbrella can- 
not be supposed to have an affinity for individual 
men equal and reciprocal to that which men cer- 
tainly feel toward individual umbrellas, — we took 
the trouble of consulting a scientific friend as to 
whether there was any possible physical explanation 
of the phenomenon. He was unable to supply a 
plausible theory, or even hypothesis ; but we extract 
from his letter the following interesting passage 
relative to the physical peculiarities of umbrellas : 
' Not the least important, and by far the most curious 
property of the umbrella, is the energy which it 
displays in affecting the atmospheric strata. There 
is no fact in meteorology better established — indeed, 
it is almost the only one on which meteorologists 
are agreed — than that the carriage of an umbrella 
produces desiccation of the air ; while if it be left 
at home, aqueous vapour is largely produced, and is 
soon deposited in the form of rain. No theory,' my 
friend continues, ' competent to explain this hygro- 
metric law has yet been given (as far as I am 
aware) by Herschel, Dove, Glaisher, Tait, Buchan, 
or any other writer ; nor do I pretend to supply the 
defect. I venture, however, to throw out the con- 
jecture that it will be ultimately found to belong to 
the same class of natural laws as that agreeable 
to which a slice of toast always descends with the 
buttered surface downwards.' 

But it is time to draw to a close. We could 
expatiate much longer upon this topic, but want 

79 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

of space constrains us to leave unfinished these few 
desultory remarks — slender contributions towards 
a subject which has fallen sadly backward, and 
which, we grieve to say, was better understood 
by the king of Siam in 1686 than by all the 
philosophers of to-day. If, however, we have 
awakened in any rational mind an interest in the 
symbolism of umbrellas — in any generous heart a 
more complete sympathy with the dumb companion 
of his daily walk, — or in any grasping spirit a pure 
notion of respectability strong enough to make him 
expend his six-and-twenty shillings — we shall have 
deserved well of the world, to say nothing of the 
many industrious persons employed in the manu- 
facture of the article. 



THE PHILOSOPHY OF NOMENCLATURE 

' How many Caesars and Pompeys, by mere inspirations of the names, 
have been rendered worthy of them? And how many are there, who 
might have done exceeding well in the world, had not their characters 
and spirits been totally depressed and Nicodemus'd into nothing?' — 
Tristram Shandy, vol. i. chap. xix. 

Such were the views of the late Walter Shandy, 
Esq., Turkey merchant. To the best of my belief, 
Mr. Shandy is the first who fairly pointed out 
the incalculable influence of nomenclature upon the 
whole life — who seems first to have recognised the 
one child, happy in an heroic appellation, soaring 
upwards on the wings of fortune, and the other, like 
80 



PHILOSOPHY OF NOMENCLATURE 

the dead sailor in his shotted hammock, haled down 
by sheer weight of name into the abysses of social 
failure. Solomon possibly had his eye on some such 
theory when he said that ' a good name is better 
than precious ointment ' ; and perhaps we may trace 
a similar spirit in the compilers of the English 
Catechism, and the affectionate interest with which 
they linger round the catechumen's name at the 
very threshold of their work. But, be these as they 
may, I think no one can censure me for appending, 
in pursuance of the expressed wish of his son, the 
Turkey merchant's name to his system, and pro- 
nouncing, without further preface, a short epitome 
of the Shandean Philosophy of Nomenclature. 

To begin, then : the influence of our name makes 
itself felt from the very cradle. As a schoolboy I 
remember the pride with which I hailed Robin 
Hood, Robert Bruce, and Robert le Diable as my 
name-fellows ; and the feeling of sore disappoint- 
ment that fell on my heart when I found a free- 
booter or a general who did not share with me a 
single one of my numerous prcenomina. Look at 
the delight with which two children find they have 
the same name. They are friends from that moment 
forth ; they have a bond of union stronger than 
exchange of nuts and sweetmeats. This feeling, I 
own, wears off in later life. Our names lose their 
freshness and interest, become trite and indifferent. 
But this, dear reader, is merely one of the sad effects 
of those ' shades of the prison-house ' which come 
gradually betwixt us and nature with advancing 

2 I — F 8 1 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

years ; it affords no weapon against the philosophy 
of names. 

In after life, although we fail to trace its working, 
that name which careless godfathers lightly applied 
to your unconscious infancy will have been mould- 
ing your character, and influencing with irresistible 
power the whole course of your earthly fortunes. 
But the last name, overlooked by Mr. Shandy, is 
no whit less important as a condition of success. 
Family names, we must recollect, are but inherited 
nicknames ; and if the sobriquet were applicable to 
the ancestor, it is most likely applicable to the 
descendant also. You would not expect to find 
Mr. M'Phun acting as a mute, or Mr. M'Lumpha 
excelling as a professor of dancing. Therefore, in 
what follows, we shall consider names, independent 
of whether they are first or last. And to begin 
with, look what a pull Cromwell had over Pym — the 
one name full of a resonant imperialism, the other, 
mean, pettifogging, and unheroic to a degree. Who 
would expect eloquence from Pym — who would read 
poems by Pym — who would bow to the opinion of 
Pym ? He might have been a dentist, but he should 
never have aspired to be a statesman. I can only 
wonder that he succeeded as he did. Pym and 
Habakkuk stand first upon the roll of men who have 
triumphed, by sheer force of genius, over the most 
unfavourable appellations. But even these have 
suffered ; and, had they been more fitly named, the 
one might have been Lord Protector, and the other 
have shared the laurels with Isaiah. In this matter 
82 



PHILOSOPHY OF NOMENCLATURE 

we must not forget that all our great poets have 
borne great names. Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, 
Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, Shelley — what a con- 
stellation of lordly words ! Not a single common- 
place name among them — not a Brown, not a Jones, 
not a Robinson ; they are all names that one would 
stop and look at on a door-plate. Now, imagine 
if Pepys had tried to clamber somehow into the 
enclosure of poetry, what a blot would that word 
have made upon the list ! The thing was impossible. 
In the first place, a certain natural consciousness 
that men have would have held him down to the 
level of his name, would have prevented him from 
rising above the Pepsine standard, and so haply 
withheld him altogether from attempting verse. 
Next, the booksellers would refuse to publish, and 
the world to read them, on the mere evidence of the 
fatal appellation. And now, before I close this 
section, I must say one word as to punnable names, 
names that stand alone, that have a significance and 
life apart from him that bears them. These are the 
bitterest of all. One friend of mine goes bowed and 
humbled through life under the weight of this mis- 
fortune ; for it is an awful thing when a man's name 
is a joke, when he cannot be mentioned without 
exciting merriment, and when even the intimation 
of his death bids fair to carry laughter into many a 
home. 

So much for people who are badly named. Now 
for people who are too well named, who go top- 
heavy from the font, who are baptized into a false 

83 



COLLEGE PAPERS 

position, and find themselves beginning life eclipsed 
under the fame of some of the great ones of the past. 
A man, for instance, called William Shakespeare 
could never dare to write plays. He is thrown into 
too humbling an apposition with the author of 
Hamlet. His own name coming after is such an 
anti-climax. ' The plays of William Shakespeare ' ? 
says the reader — ' O no ! The plays of William 
Shakespeare Cockerill,' and he throws the book 
aside. In wise pursuance of such views, Mr. John 
Milton Hengler, who not long since delighted us in 
this favoured town, has never attempted to write an 
epic, but has chosen a new path, and has excelled 
upon the tight-rope. A marked example of triumph 
over this is the case of Mr. Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 
On the face of the matter, I should have advised 
him to imitate the pleasing modesty of the last- 
named gentleman, and confine his ambition to the 
sawdust. But Mr. Rossetti has triumphed. He 
has even dared to translate from his mighty name- 
father ; and the voice of fame supports him in his 
boldness. 

Dear readers, one might write a year upon this 
matter. A lifetime of comparison and research 
could scarce suffice for its elucidation. So here, if 
it please you, we shall let it rest. Slight as these 
notes have been, I would that the great founder of 
the system had been alive to see them. How he 
had warmed and brightened, how his persuasive 
eloquence would have fallen on the ears of Toby ; 
and what a letter of praise and sympathy would not 
84 



PHILOSOPHY OF NOMENCLATURE 

the editor have received before the month was out ! 
Alas, the thing was not to be. Walter Shandy died 
and was duly buried, while yet his theory lay 
forgotten and neglected by his fellow-countrymen. 
But, reader, the day will come, I hope, when a 
paternal government will stamp out, as seeds of 
national weakness, all depressing patronymics, and 
when godfathers and godmothers will soberly and 
earnestly debate the interest of the nameless one, 
and not rush blindfold to the christening. In these 
days there shall be written a Godfathers Assistant, 
in shape of a dictionary of names, with their con- 
comitant virtues and vices; and this book shall 
be scattered broadcast through the land, and shall 
be on the table of every one eligible for godfather- 
ship, until such a thing as a vicious or untoward 
appellation shall have ceased from off the face of 
the earth. 



85 



IV 

NOTES AND ESSAYS 

CHIEFLY OF THE ROAD 



Previously published : 

in. Portfolio, November 1873. 
iv. Ibid., August 1874. 
v. Ibid., November 1874. 
vi. Ibid., April and May 1875. 
vii. (posthumously) Illustrated London News, 

Summer Number, 1896. 
viii. Cornhill Magazine, May 1876. 
ix. (posthumously) The Studio, Winter Number, 
1896. 

Nos. 1. and 11. are printed from the Author's MSS. 
for the first time. 



NOTES AND ESSAYS 
CHIEFLY OF THE ROAD 



A RETROSPECT 

(.4 Fragment : written at Dunoon, 1870) 

If there is anything that delights me in Hazlitt, 
beyond the charm of style and the unconscious 
portrait of a vain and powerful spirit, which his 
works present, it is the loving and tender way in 
which he returns again to the memory of the past. 
These little recollections of bygone happiness were 
too much a part of the man to be carelessly or 
poorly told. The imaginary landscapes and visions 
of the most ecstatic dreamer can never rival such 
recollections, told simply perhaps, but still told (as 
they could not fail to be) with precision, delicacy, 
and evident delight. They are too much loved by 
the author not to be palated by the reader. But 
beyond the mere felicity of pencil, the nature of the 
piece could never fail to move my heart. When I 
read his essay ' On the Past and Future,' every word 
seemed to be something I had said myself. I could 
have thought he had been eavesdropping at the 
doors of my heart, so entire was the coincidence 

89 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

between his writing and my thought. It is a sign 
perhaps of a somewhat vain disposition. The future 
is nothing ; but the past is myself, my own history, 
the seed of my present thoughts, the mould of my 
present disposition. It is not in vain that I return 
to the nothings of my childhood ; for every one of 
them has left some stamp upon me or put some 
fetter on my boasted free-will. In the past is my 
present fate ; and in the past also is my real life. 
It is not the past only, but the past that has been 
many years in that tense. The doings and actions 
of last year are as uninteresting and vague to me as 
the blank gulf of the future, the tabula rasa that 
may never be anything else. I remember a con- 
fused hotch-potch of unconnected events, a ' chaos 
without form, and void ' ; but nothing salient or 
striking rises from the dead level of ' flat, stale and 
unprofitable' generality. When we are looking at 
a landscape we think ourselves pleased; but it is 
only when it comes back upon us by the fire o' 
nights that we can disentangle the main charm from 
the thick of particulars. It is just so with what 
is lately past. It is too much loaded with detail to 
be distinct ; and the canvas is too large for the eye 
to encompass. But this is no more the case when 
our recollections have been strained long enough 
through the hour-glass of time ; when they have 
been the burthen of so much thought, the charm 
and comfort of so many a vigil. All that is 
worthless has been sieved and sifted out of them. 
Nothing remains but the brightest lights and the 
90 



A RETROSPECT 

darkest shadows. When we see a mountain country 
near at hand, the spurs and haunches crowd up in 
eager rivalry, and the whole range seems to have 
shrugged its shoulders to its ears, till we cannot tell 
the higher from the lower : but when we are far off, 
these lesser prominences are melted back into the 
bosom of the rest, or have set behind the round 
horizon of the plain, and the highest peaks stand 
forth in lone and sovereign dignity against the sky. 
It is just the same with our recollections. We 
require to draw back and shade our eyes before the 
picture dawns upon us in full breadth and outline. 
Late years are still in limbo to us ; but the more 
distant past is all that we possess in life, the corn 
already harvested and stored for ever in the grange 
of memory. The doings of to-day at some future 
time will gain the required offing ; I shall learn to 
love the things of my adolescence, as Hazlitt loved 
them, and as I love already the recollections of my 
childhood. They will gather interest with every 
year. They will ripen in forgotten corners of my 
memory ; and some day I shall waken and find 
them vested with new glory and new pleasantness. 

It is for stirring the chords of memory, then, that 
I love Hazlitt's essays, and for the same reason 
(I remember) he himself threw in his allegiance to 
Rousseau, saying of him, what was so true of his 
own writings : ' He seems to gather up the past 
moments of his being like drops of honey-dew to 
distil some precious liquor from them ; his alternate 
pleasures and pains are the bead-roll that he tells 

9i 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

over and piously worships ; he makes a rosary of the 
flowers of hope and fancy that strewed his earliest 
years.' How true are these words when applied to 
himself! and how much I thank him that it was so ! 
All my childhood is a golden age to me. I have 
no recollection of bad weather. Except one or two 
storms where grandeur had impressed itself on my 
mind, the whole time seems steeped in sunshine. 
' Et ego in Arcadia vioci ' would be no empty boast 
upon my grave. If I desire to live long, it is that 
I may have the more to look back upon. Even to 
one, like the unhappy Duchess, 

c Acquainted with sad misery 
As the tamed galley-slave is with his oar,' 

and seeing over the night of troubles no ' lily- 
wristed morn ' of hope appear, a retrospect of even 
chequered and doubtful happiness in the past may 
sweeten the bitterness of present tears. And here 
I may be excused if I quote a passage from an 
unpublished drama (the unpublished is perennial, I 
fancy) which the author believed was not all devoid 
of the flavour of our elder dramatists. However 
this may be, it expresses better than I could some 
further thoughts on this same subject. The heroine 
is taken by a minister to the grave, where already 
some have been recently buried, and where her 
sister's lover is destined to rejoin them on the fol- 
lowing day. 1 

1 The quotation here promised from one of the author's own early 
dramatic efforts (a tragedy of Semiramis) is not supplied in the ms. — [Ed.] 
92 



A RETROSPECT 

What led me to the consideration of this subject, 
and what has made me take up my pen to-night, is 
the rather strange coincidence of two very different 
accidents — a prophecy of my future and a return 
into my past. No later than yesterday, seated in 
the coffee-room here, there came into the tap of the 
hotel a poor mad Highland woman. The noise of 
her strained, thin voice brought me out to see her. 
I could conceive that she had been pretty once, 
but that was many years ago. She was now 
withered and fallen-looking. Her hair was thin and 
straggling, her dress poor and scanty. Her moods 
•changed as rapidly as a weathercock before a 
thunderstorm. One moment she said her ' mutch ' 
was the only thing that gave her comfort, and the 
next she slackened the strings and let it back upon 
her neck, in a passion at it for making her too 
hot. Her talk was a wild, somewhat weird, farrago 
of utterly meaningless balderdash, mere inarticu- 
late gabble, snatches of old Jacobite ballads and 
exaggerated phrases from the drama, to which she 
suited equally exaggerated action. She ' babbled of 
green fields' and Highland glens; she prophesied 
' the drawing of the claymore,' with a lofty disregard 
of cause or common-sense ; and she broke out sud- 
denly, with uplifted hands and eyes, into ecstatic 
' Heaven bless hims ! ' and ' Heaven forgive hims ! ' 
She had been a camp-follower in her younger days, 
and she was never tired of expatiating on the 
gallantry, the fame, and the beauty of the 42nd 
Highlanders. Her patriotism knew no bounds, and 

93 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

her prolixity was much on the same scale. This 
Witch of Endor offered to tell my fortune, with 
much dignity and proper oracular enunciation. But 
on my holding forth my hand a somewhat ludicrous 
incident occurred. ' Na, na,' she said ; ' wait till I 
have a draw of my pipe.' Down she sat in the 
corner, puffing vigorously and regaling the lady 
behind the counter with conversation more remark- 
able for stinging satire than prophetic dignity. The 
person in question had ' mair weeg than hair on her 
head ' (did not the chignon plead guilty at these 
words ?) — ' wad be better if she had less tongue ' — 
and would come at last to the grave, a goal which, 
in a few words, she invested with ' warning circum- 
stance ' enough to make a Stoic shudder. Suddenly, 
in the midst of this, she rose up and beckoned me 
to approach. The oracles of my Highland sorceress 
had no claim to consideration except in the matter 
of obscurity. In ' question hard and sentence 
intricate' she beat the priests of Delphi; in bold, 
unvarnished falsity (as regards the past) even spirit- 
rapping was a child to her. All that I could gather 
may be thus summed up shortly : that I was to visit 
America, that I was to be very happy, and that I 
was to be much upon the sea, predictions which, in 
consideration of an uneasy stomach, I can scarcely 
think agreeable with one another. Two incidents 
alone relieved the dead level of idiocy and incom- 
prehensible gabble. The first was the comical 
announcement that ' when I drew fish to the Mar- 
quis of Bute, I should take care of my sweetheart,' 
94 



A RETROSPECT 

from which I deduce the fact that at some period 
of my life I shall drive a fishmonger's cart. The 
second, in the middle of such nonsense, had a touch 
of the tragic. She suddenly looked at me with an 
eager glance, and dropped my hand saying, in what 
were tones of misery or a very good affectation of 
them, ' Black eyes ! ' A moment after she was at 
work again. It is as well to mention that 1 have 
not black eyes. 1 

This incident, strangely blended of the pathetic 
and the ludicrous, set my mind at work upon the 
future ; but I could find little interest in the study. 
Even the predictions of my sibyl failed to allure 
me, nor could life's prospect charm and detain my 
attention like its retrospect. 

Not far from Dunoon is Rosemore, a house in 
which I had spent a week or so in my very distant 
childhood, how distant I have no idea ; and one may 
easily conceive how I looked forward to revisiting 
this place and so renewing contact with my former 
self. I was under necessity to be early up, and 
under necessity also, in the teeth of a bitter spring 
north-easter, to clothe myself warmly on the morning 
of my long-promised excursion. The day was as 
bright as it was cold. Vast irregular masses of white 
and purple cumulus drifted rapidly over the sky. 
The great hills, brown with the bloomless heather, 

1 ' The old pythoness was right/ adds the author in a note appended 
to his ms. in 1887 ; ' I have been happy : I did go to America (am even 

going again — unless ) : and I have been twice and once upon the 

deep.' The seafaring part of the prophecy remained to be fulfilled on a 
far more extended scale in his Pacific voyages of 1888-90. — [Ed.] 

95 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

were here and there buried in blue shadows, and 
streaked here and there with sharp stripes of sun. 
The new-fired larches were green in the glens ; and 
'pale primroses' hid themselves in mossy hollows 
and under hawthorn roots. All these things were 
new to me ; for I had noticed none of these beauties 
in my younger days, neither the larch woods, nor 
the winding road edged in between field and flood, 
nor the broad, ruffled bosom of the hill-surrounded 
loch. It was, above all, the height of these hills that 
astonished me. I remembered the existence of hills, 
certainly, but the picture in my memory was low, 
featureless, and uninteresting. They seemed to have 
kept pace with me in my growth, but to a gigantic 
scale ; and the villas that I remembered as half-way 
up the slope seemed to have been left behind like 
myself, and now only ringed their mighty feet, 
white among the newly kindled woods. As I felt 
myself on the road at last that I had been dreaming 
of for these many days before, a perfect intoxica- 
tion of joy took hold upon me ; and I was so 
pleased at my own happiness that I could let none 
past me till I had taken them into my confidence. 
I asked my way from every one, and took good 
care to let them all know, before they left me, what 
my object was, and how many years had elapsed 
since my last visit. I wonder what the good folk 
thought of me and my communications. 

At last, however, after much inquiry, I arrive at 
the place, make my peace with the gardener and 
enter. My disillusion dates from the opening of the 
96 



A RETROSPECT 

garden door. I repine, I find a reluctation of spirit 
against believing that this is the place. What, is 
this kailyard that inexhaustible paradise of a garden 
in which M and I found ' elbow-room,' and ex- 
patiated together without sensible constraint ? Is 
that little turfed slope the huge and perilous green 
bank down which I counted it a feat, and the gar- 
dener a sin, to run ? Are these two squares of stone, 
some two feet high, the pedestals on which I walked 
with such a penetrating sense of dizzy elevation, and 
which I had expected to find on a level with my 
eyes? Ay, the place is no more like what I ex- 
pected than this bleak April day is like the glorious 
September with which it is incorporated in my 
memory. I look at the gardener, disappointment 
in my face, and tell him that the place seems sorrily 
shrunken from the high estate that it had held in my 
remembrance, and he returns, with quiet laughter, 
by asking me how long it is since I was there. I 
tell him, and he remembers me. Ah ! I say, I was 
a great nuisance, I believe. But no, my good gar- 
dener will plead guilty to having kept no record of 
my evil-doings, and I find myself much softened 
toward the place and willing to take a kinder view 
and pardon its shortcomings for the sake of the 
gardener and his pretended recollection of myself. 
And it is just at this stage (to complete my re- 
establishment) that I see a little boy — the gardener's 
grandchild — just about the same age and the same 
height that I must have been in the days when I 
was here last. My first feeling is one of almost 
21— g 97 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

anger, to see him playing on the gravel where I had 
played before, as if he had usurped something of my 
identity ; but next moment I feel a softening and a 
sort of rising and qualm of the throat, accompanied 
by a pricking heat in the eyeballs. I hastily join 
conversation with the child, and inwardly felicitate 
myself that the gardener is opportunely gone for the 
key of the house. But the child is a sort of homily 
to me. He is perfectly quiet and resigned, an un- 
conscious hermit. I ask him jocularly if he gets as 
much abused as I used to do for running down the 
bank ; but the child's perfect seriousness of answer 
staggers me — s O no, grandpapa doesn't allow it — 
why should he ? ' I feel caught : I stand abashed 
at the reproof: I must not expose my childishness 
again to this youthful disciplinarian, and so I ask 
him very stately what he is going to be — a good 
serious practical question, out of delicacy for his 
parts. He answers that he is going to be a mis- 
sionary to China, and tells me how a missionary 
once took him on his knee and told him about 
missionary work, and asked him if he, too, would 
not like to become one, to which the child had 
simply answered in the affirmative. The child is 
altogether so different from what I have been, is so 
absolutely complementary to what I now am, that I 
turn away not a little abashed from the conversa- 
tion, for there is always something painful in sudden 
contact with the good qualities that we do not 
possess. Just then the grandfather returns ; and I 
go with him to the summer-house, where I used to 
98 



A RETROSPECT 

learn my Catechism, to the wall on which M 

and I thought it no small exploit to walk upon, and 
all the other places that I remembered. 

In fine, the matter being ended, I turn and go my 
way home to the hotel, where, in the cold afternoon, 
I write these notes with the table and chair drawn 
as near the fire as the rug and the French polish 
will permit. 

One other thing I may as well make a note of, 
and that is how there arises that strange contradic- 
tion of the hills being higher than I had expected, 
and everything near at hand being so ridiculously 
smaller. This is a question I think easily answered : 
the very terms of the problem suggest the solution. 
To everything near at hand I applied my own stature, 
as a sort of natural unit of measurement, so that I 
had no actual image of their dimensions but their 
ratio to myself; so, of course, as one term of the 
proportion changed, the other changed likewise, and 
as my own height increased my notion of things 
near at hand became equally expanded. But the 
hills, mark you, were out of my reach : I could not 
apply myself to them : I had an actual, instead of a 
proportional eidolon of their magnitude ; so that, of 
course (my eye being larger and flatter now-a-days, 
and so the image presented to me then being in 
sober earnest smaller than the image presented to 
me now), I found the hills nearly as much too great 
as I had found the other things too small. 

[Added the next morning.'] — He who indulges 

99 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

habitually in the intoxicating pleasures of imagina- 
tion, for the very reason that he reaps a greater 
pleasure than others, must resign himself to a keener 
pain, a more intolerable and utter prostration. It 
is quite possible, and even comparatively easy, so to 
enfold oneself in pleasant fancies that the realities 
of life may seem but as the white snow-shower in 
the street, that only gives a relish to the swept hearth 
and lively fire within. By such means I have for- 
gotten hunger, I have sometimes eased pain, and 
I have invariably changed into the most pleasant 
hours of the day those very vacant and idle seasons 
which would otherwise have hung most heavily upon 
my hand. But all this is attained by the undue 
prominence of purely imaginative joys, and conse- 
quently the weakening and almost the destruction 
of reality. This is buying at too great a price. 
There are seasons when the imagination becomes 
somehow tranced and surfeited, as it is with me 
this morning ; and then upon what can we fall 
back ? The very faculty that we have fostered and 
trusted has failed us in the hour of trial ; and we 
have so blunted and enfeebled our appetite for the 
others that they are subjectively dead to us. It is 
just as though a farmer should plant all his fields 
in potatoes, instead of varying them with grain and 
pasture ; and so, when the disease comes, lose all his 
harvest, while his neighbours, perhaps, may balance 
the profit and the loss. Do not suppose that I am 
exaggerating when I talk about all pleasures seeming 
stale. To me, at least, the edge of almost every- 
ioo 



A RETROSPECT 

thing is put on by imagination ; and even nature, 
in these days when the fancy is drugged and useless, 
wants half the charm it has in better moments. I 
can no longer see satyrs in the thicket, or picture a 
highwayman riding down the lane. The fiat of in- 
difference has gone forth : I am vacant, unprofitable : 
a leaf on a river with no volition and no aim : a 
mental drunkard the morning after an intellectual 
debauch. Yes, I have a more subtle opium in my 
own mind than any apothecary's drug ; but it has 
a sting of its own, and leaves me as flat and 
helpless as does the other. 



ii 
COCKERMOUTH AND KESWICK 

(A Fragment : 1871) 

Very much as a painter half closes his eyes so that 
some salient unity may disengage itself from among 
the crowd of details, and what he sees may thus 
form itself into a whole ; very much on the same 
principle, I may say, I allow a considerable lapse of 
time to intervene between any of my little journey- 
ings and the attempt to chronicle them. I cannot 
describe a thing that is before me at the moment, 
or that has been before me only a very little 
while before ; I must allow my recollections to get 
thoroughly strained free from all chaff till nothing 
be except the pure gold ; allow my memory to 
choose out what is truly memorable by a process 

101 






■•,-,.■* 



<■. 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

of natural selection ; and I piously believe that in 
this way I ensure the Survival of the Fittest. If I 
make notes for future use, or if I am obliged to 
write letters during the course of my little excur- 
sion, I so interfere with the process that I can never 
again find out what is worthy of being preserved, or 
what should be given in full length, what in torso, 
or what merely in profile. This process of incuba- 
tion may be unreasonably prolonged ; and I am 
somewhat afraid that I have made this mistake 
with the present journey. Like a bad daguerreo- 
type, great part of it has been entirely lost; I can 
tell you nothing about the beginning and nothing 
about the end ; but the doings of some fifty or sixty 
hours about the middle remain quite distinct and 
definite, like a little patch of sunshine on a long, 
shadowy plain, or the one spot on an old picture 
that has been restored by the dexterous hand of 
the cleaner. I remember a tale of an old Scots 
minister, called upon suddenly to preach, who had 
hastily snatched an old sermon out of his study and 
found himself in the pulpit before he noticed that 
the rats had been making free with his manuscript 
and eaten the first two or three pages away ; he 
gravely explained to the congregation how he found 
himself situated; 'And now,' said he, 'let us just 
begin where the rats have left off.' I must follow 
the divine's example, and take up the thread of my 
discourse where it first distinctly issues from the 
limbo of forgetfulness. 



102 



COCKERMOUTH AND KESWICK 

COCKERMOUTH 

I was lighting my pipe as I stepped out of the 
inn at Cockermouth, and did not raise my head 
until I was fairly in the street. When I did so, 
it flashed upon me that I was in England ; the even- 
ing sunlight lit up English houses, English faces, 
an English conformation of street, — as it were, an 
English atmosphere blew against my face. There 
is nothing perhaps more puzzling (if one thing in 
sociology can ever really be more unaccountable 
than another) than the great gulf that is set be- 
tween England and Scotland — a gulf so easy in 
appearance, in reality so difficult to traverse. Here 
are two people almost identical in blood ; pent up 
together on one small island, so that their inter- 
course (one would have thought) must be as close as 
that of prisoners who shared one cell of the Bastille ; 
the same in language and religion ; and yet a few 
years of quarrelsome isolation — a mere forenoon's 
tiff, as one may call it, in comparison with the great 
historical cycles — has so separated their thoughts 
and ways that not unions, not mutual dangers, nor 
steamers, nor railways, nor all the king's horses and 
all the king's men, seem able to obliterate the broad 
distinction. In the trituration of another century 
or so the corners may disappear ; but in the mean- 
time, in the year of grace 1871, I was as much in a 
new country as if I had been walking out of the 
Hotel St. Antoine at Antwerp. 

I felt a little thrill of pleasure at my heart as I 

103 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

realised the change, and strolled away up the street 
with my hands behind my back, noting in a dull, 
sensual way how foreign, and yet how friendly, were 
the slopes of the gables and the colour of the tiles, 
and even the demeanour and voices of the gossips 
round about me. 

Wandering in this aimless humour, I turned up a 
lane and found myself following the course of the 
bright little river. I passed first one and then 
another, then a third, several couples out love-making 
in the spring evening ; and a consequent feeling of 
loneliness was beginning to grow upon me, when I 
came to a dam across the river, and a mill — a great, 
gaunt promontory of building, — half on dry ground 
and half arched over the stream. The road here 
drew in its shoulders, and crept through between 
the landward extremity of the mill and a little 
garden enclosure, with a small house and a large 
signboard within its privet hedge. I was pleased to 
fancy this an inn, and drew little etchings in fancy 
of a sanded parlour, and three-cornered spittoons, 
and a society of parochial gossips seated within over 
their churchwardens ; but as I drew near, the 
board displayed its superscription, and I could read 
the name of Smethurst, and the designation of 
' Canadian Felt Hat Manufacturers.' There was no 
more hope of evening fellowship, and I could only 
stroll on by the river-side, under the trees. The 
water was dappled with slanting sunshine, and 
dusted all over with a little mist of flying insects. 
There were some amorous ducks, also, whose love- 
104 



COCKERMOUTH AND KESWICK 

making reminded me of what I had seen a little 
farther down. But the road grew sad, and I grew 
weary ; and as I was perpetually haunted with the 
terror of a return of the tic that had been playing 
such ruin in my head a week ago, I turned and went 
back to the inn, and supper, and my bed. 

The next morning, at breakfast, I communicated 
to the smart waitress my intention of continuing 
down the coast and through Whitehaven to Furness, 
and, as I might have expected, I was instantly 
confronted by that last and most worrying form of 
interference, that chooses to introduce tradition and 
authority into the choice of a man's own pleasures. 
I can excuse a person combating my religious 
or philosophical heresies, because them I have 
deliberately accepted, and am ready to justify by 
present argument. But I do not seek to justify my 
pleasures. If I prefer tame scenery to grand, a 
little hot sunshine over lowland parks and wood- 
lands to the war of the elements round the summit 
of Mont Blanc ; or if I prefer a pipe of mild tobacco, 
and the company of one or two chosen companions, 
to a ball where I feel myself very hot, awkward, and 
weary, I merely state these preferences as facts, and 
do not seek to establish them as principles. This is 
not the general rule, however, and accordingly the 
waitress was shocked, as one might be at a heresy, 
to hear the route that I had sketched out for 
myself. Everybody who came to Cockermouth for 
pleasure, it appeared, went on to Keswick. It was 
in vain that I put up a little plea for the liberty of 

105 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

the subject ; it was in vain that I said I should 
prefer to go to Whitehaven. I was told that there 
was ' nothing to see there ' — that weary, hackneyed, 
old falsehood ; and at last, as the handmaiden began 
to look really concerned, I gave way, as men always 
do in such circumstances, and agreed that I was 
to leave for Keswick by a train in the early evening. 

AN EVANGELIST 

Cockermouth itself, on the same authority, was 
a place with * nothing to see ' ; nevertheless 1 saw a 
good deal, and retain a pleasant, vague picture of 
the town and all its surroundings. I might have 
dodged happily enough all day about the main 
street and up to the castle and in and out of 
byways, but the curious attraction that leads a 
person in a strange place to follow, day after day, 
the same round, and to make set habits for himself 
in a week or ten days, led me half unconsciously up 
the same road that I had gone the evening before. 
When I came up to the hat manufactory, Smethurst 
himself was standing in the garden gate. He was 
brushing one Canadian felt hat, and several others 
had been put to await their turn one above the 
other on his own head, so that he looked something 
like the typical Jew old-clothesman. As I drew 
near, he came sidling out of the doorway to accost 
me, with so curious an expression on his face that I 
instinctively prepared myself to apologise for some 
unwitting trespass. His first question rather con- 
106 



COCKERMOUTH AND KESWICK 

firmed me in this belief, for it was whether or not he 
had seen me going up this way last night ; and after 
having answered in the affirmative, I waited in some 
alarm for the rest of my indictment. But the good 
man's heart was full of peace ; and he stood there 
brushing his hats and prattling on about fishing, and 
walking, and the pleasures of convalescence, in a 
bright shallow stream that kept me pleased and 
interested, I could scarcely say how. As he went 
on, he warmed to his subject, and laid his hats aside 
to go along the water-side and show me where the 
large trout commonly lay, underneath an overhang- 
ing bank ; and he was much disappointed, for my 
sake, that there were none visible just then. Then 
he wandered off on to another tack, and stood a 
great while out in the middle of a meadow in the 
hot sunshine, trying to make out that he had known 
me before, or, if not me, some friend of mine, 
merely, I believe, out of a desire that we should feel 
more friendly and at our ease with one another. At 
last he made a little speech to me, of which I wish 
I could recollect the very words, for they were so 
simple and unaffected that they put all the best 
writing and speaking to the blush ; as it is, I can 
recall only the sense, and that perhaps imperfectly. 
He began by saying that he had little things in his 
past life that it gave him especial pleasure to recall ; 
and that the faculty of receiving such sharp im- 
pressions had now died out in himself, but must at 
my age be still quite lively and active. Then he 
told me that he had a little raft afloat on the river 

107 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

above the dam which he was going to lend me, in 
order that I might be able to look back, in after 
years, upon having done so, and get great pleasure 
from the recollection. Now, I have a friend of my 
own who will forgo present enjoyments and suffer 
much present inconvenience for the sake of manu- 
facturing *a reminiscence' for himself; but there 
was something singularly refined in this pleasure 
that the hatmaker found in making reminiscences 
for others ; surely no more simple or unselfish luxury 
can be imagined. After he had unmoored his little 
embarkation, and seen me safely shoved off into 
mid-stream, he ran away back to his hats with the 
air of a man who had only just recollected that he 
had anything to do. 

I did not stay very long on the raft. It ought to 
have been very nice punting about there in the cool 
shade of the trees, or sitting moored to an over- 
hanging root ; but perhaps the very notion that I 
was bound in gratitude specially to enjoy my little 
cruise, and cherish its recollection, turned the whole 
thing from a pleasure into a duty. Be that as it 
may, there is no doubt that I soon wearied and 
came ashore again, and that it gives me more 
pleasure to recall the man himself and his simple, 
happy conversation, so full of gusto and sympathy, 
than anything possibly connected with his crank, 
insecure embarkation. In order to avoid seeing him, 
for I was not a little ashamed of myself for having 
failed to enjoy his treat sufficiently, I determined to 
continue up the river, and, at all prices, to find some 
1 08 



COCKERMOUTH AND KESWICK 

other way back into the town in time for dinner. 
As I went, I was thinking of Smethurst with 
admiration ; a look into that man's mind was like a 
retrospect over the smiling champaign of his past 
life, and very different from the Sinai-gorges up 
which one looks for a terrified moment into the 
dark souls of many good, many wise, and many 
prudent men. I cannot be very grateful to such 
men for their excellence, and wisdom, and prudence. 
I find myself facing as stoutly as I can a hard, com- 
bative existence, full of doubt, difficulties, defeats, 
disappointments, and dangers, quite a hard enough 
life without their dark countenances at my elbow, so 
that what I want is a happy-minded Smethurst 
placed here and there at ugly corners of my life's 
wayside, preaching his gospel of quiet and content- 
ment. 

ANOTHER 

I was shortly to meet with an evangelist of 
another stamp. After I had forced my way through 
a gentleman's grounds, I came out on the high road, 
and sat down to rest myself on a heap of stones 
at the top of a long hill, with Cockermouth lying 
snugly at the bottom. An Irish beggar-woman, 
with a beautiful little girl by her side, came up to 
ask for alms, and gradually fell to telling me the 
little tragedy of her life. Her own sister, she told 
me, had seduced her husband from her after many 
years of married life, and the pair had fled, leaving 
her destitute, with the little girl upon her hands. 

109 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

She seemed quite hopeful and cheery, and, though 
she was unaffectedly sorry for the loss of her hus- 
band's earnings, she made no pretence of despair at 
the loss of his affection ; some day she would meet 
the fugitives, and the law would see her duly righted, 
and in the meantime the smallest contribution was 
gratefully received. While she was telling all this 
in the most matter-of-fact way, I had been noticing 
the approach of a tall man, with a high white hat 
and darkish clothes. He came up the hill at a rapid 
pace, and joined our little group with a sort of half- 
salutation. Turning at once to the woman, he 
asked her in a business-like way whether she had 
anything to do, whether she were a Catholic or a 
Protestant, whether she could read, and so forth ; 
and then, after a few kind words and some sweeties 
to the child, he despatched the mother with some 
tracts about Biddy and the Priest, and the Orange- 
man's Bible. I was a little amused at his abrupt 
manner, for he was still a young man, and had 
somewhat the air of a navy officer ; but he tackled 
me with great solemnity. I could make fun of what 
he said, for I do not think it was very wise ; but the 
subject does not appear to me just now in a jesting 
light, so I shall only say that he related to me his 
own conversion, which had been effected (as is very 
often the case) through the agency of a gig accident, 
and that, after having examined me and diagnosed 
my case, he selected some suitable tracts from his 
repertory, gave them to me, and, bidding me God- 
speed, went on his way. 
no 



COCKERMOUTH AND KESWICK 

LAST OF SMETHURST 

That evening I got into a third-class carriage on 
my way for Keswick, and was followed almost 
immediately by a burly man in brown clothes. This 
fellow-passenger was seemingly ill at ease, and kept 
continually putting his head out of the window, and 
asking the bystanders if they saw him coming. At 
last, when the train was already in motion, there 
was a commotion on the platform, and a way was 
left clear to our carriage door. He had arrived. In 
the hurry I could just see Smethurst, red and 
panting, thrust a couple of clay pipes into my 
companion's outstretched hand, and hear him crying 
his farewells after us as we slipped out of the station 
at an ever accelerating pace. I said something 
about its being a close run, and the broad man, 
already engaged in filling one of the pipes, assented, 
and went on to tell me of his own stupidity in 
forgetting a necessary, and of how his friend had 
good-naturedly gone down town at the last moment 
to supply the omission. I mentioned that I had 
seen Mr. Smethurst already, and that he had been 
very polite to me ; and we fell into a discussion of 
the hatter's merits that lasted some time and left us 
quite good friends at its conclusion. The topic was 
productive of goodwill. We exchanged tobacco and 
talked about the season, and agreed at last that we 
should go to the same hotel at Keswick and sup 
in company. As he had some business in the 
town which would occupy him some hour or so, on 

m 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

our arrival I was to improve the time and go down 
to the lake, that I might see a glimpse of the 
promised wonders. 

The night had fallen already when I reached the 
water-side, at a place where many pleasure-boats are 
moored and ready for hire ; and as I went along a 
stony path, between wood and water, a strong wind 
blew in gusts from the far end of the lake. The 
sky was covered with flying scud ; and, as this was 
ragged, there was quite a wild chase of shadow and 
moon-glimpse over the surface of the shuddering 
water. I had to hold my hat on, and was growing 
rather tired, and inclined to go back in disgust, when 
a little incident occurred to break the tedium. A 
sudden and violent squall of wind sundered the 
low underwood, and at the same time there came 
one of those brief discharges of moonlight, which 
leaped into the opening thus made, and showed me 
three girls in the prettiest flutter and disorder. It 
was as though they had sprung out of the ground. 
I accosted them very politely in my capacity of 
stranger, and requested to be told the names of all 
manner of hills and woods and places that I did 
not wish to know, and we stood together for a 
while and had an amusing little talk. The wind, 
too, made himself of the party, brought the colour 
into their faces, and gave them enough to do to 
repress their drapery ; and one of them, amid much 
giggling, had to pirouette round and round upon 
her toes (as girls do) when some specially strong 
gust had got the advantage over her. They were 
112 



COCKERMOUTH AND KESWICK 

just high enough up in the social order not to 
be afraid to speak to a gentleman ; and just low 
enough to feel a little tremor, a nervous conscious- 
ness of wrong-doing — of stolen waters, that gave a 
considerable zest to our most innocent interview. 
They were as much discomposed and fluttered, 
indeed, as if I had been a wicked baron proposing 
to elope with the whole trio ; but they showed no 
inclination to go away, and I had managed to get 
them off hills and waterfalls and on to more pro- 
mising subjects, when a young man was descried 
coming along the path from the direction of 
Keswick. Now whether he was the young man 
of one of my friends, or the brother of one of 
them, or indeed the brother of all, I do not 
know ; but they incontinently said that they must 
be going, and went away up the path with friendly 
salutations. I need not say that I found the 
lake and the moonlight rather dull after their 
departure, and speedily found my way back to 
potted herrings and whisky -and -water in the 
commercial room with my late fellow-traveller. In 
the smoking-room there was a tall dark man with 
a moustache, in an ulster coat, who had got the 
best place and was monopolising most of the talk ; 
and, as I came in, a whisper came round to me 
from both sides, that this was the manager of a 
London theatre. The presence of such a man was 
a great event for Keswick, and I must own that 
the manager showed himself equal to his position. 
He had a large fat pocket-book, from which he 

2 1 — H 113 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

produced poem after poem, written on the backs 
of letters or hotel-bills ; and nothing could be more 
humorous than his recitation of these elegant ex- 
tracts, except perhaps the anecdotes with which he 
varied the entertainment. Seeing, I suppose, some- 
thing less countryned in my appearance than in 
most of the company, he singled me out to cor- 
roborate some statements as to the depravity and 
vice of the aristocracy, and when he went on to 
describe some gilded saloon experiences, I am proud 
to say that he honoured my sagacity with one little 
covert wink before a second time appealing to me 
for confirmation. The wink was not thrown away ; 
I went in up to the elbows with the manager, until 
I think that some of the glory of that great man 
settled by reflection upon me, and that I was as 
noticeably the second person in the smoking-room 
as he was the first. For a young man, this was 
a position of some distinction, I think you will 
admit. . . . 

in 

ROADS 

(1873) 
No amateur will deny that he can find more pleasure 
in a single drawing, over which he can sit a whole quiet 
forenoon, and so gradually study himself into humour 
with the artist, than he can ever extract from the 
dazzle and accumulation of incongruous impressions 
that sends him, weary and stupefied, out of some 
114 



ROADS 

famous picture-gallery. But what is thus admitted 
with regard to art is not extended to the (so-called) 
natural beauties : no amount of excess in sublime 
mountain outline or the graces of cultivated low- 
land can do anything, it is supposed, to weaken or 
degrade the palate. We are not at all sure, how- 
ever, that moderation, and a regimen tolerably 
austere, even in scenery, are not healthful and 
strengthening to the taste; and that the best 
school for a lover of nature is not to be found 
in one of those countries where there is no stage 
effect — nothing salient or sudden, — but a quiet 
spirit of orderly and harmonious beauty pervades 
all the details, so that we can patiently attend to 
each of the little touches that strike in us, all of 
them together, the subdued note of the landscape. 
It is in scenery such as this that we find ourselves 
in the right temper to seek out small sequestered 
loveliness. The constant recurrence of similar com- 
binations of colour and outline gradually forces upon 
us a sense of how the harmony has been built up, 
and we become familiar with something of nature's 
mannerism. This is the true pleasure of your ' rural 
voluptuary,' — not to remain awe-stricken before a 
Mount Chimborazo ; not to sit deafened over the 
big drum in the orchestra, but day by day to teach 
himself some new beauty — to experience some new 
vague and tranquil sensation that has before evaded 
him. It is not the people who 'have pined and 
hungered after nature many a year, in the great 
city pent,' as Coleridge said in the poem that made 

ii5 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

Charles Lamb so much ashamed of himself; it is 
not those who make the greatest progress in this 
intimacy with her, or who are most quick to see 
and have the greatest gusto to enjoy. In this, 
as in everything else, it is minute knowledge and 
long-continued loving industry that make the true 
dilettante. A man must have thought much over 
scenery before he begins fully to enjoy it. It is no 
youngling enthusiasm on hill-tops that can possess 
itself of the last essence of beauty. Probably most 
people's heads are growing bare before they can see all 
in a landscape that they have the capability of seeing ; 
and, even then, it will be only for one little moment 
of consummation before the faculties are again on 
the decline, and they that look out of the win- 
dows begin to be darkened and restrained in sight. 
Thus the study of nature should be carried for- 
ward thoroughly and with system. Every grati- 
fication should be rolled long under the tongue, 
and we should be always eager to analyse and 
compare, in order that we may be able to give 
some plausible reason for our admirations. True, 
it is difficult to put even approximately into words 
the kind of feelings thus called into play. There 
is a dangerous vice inherent in any such intellectual 
refining upon vague sensation. The analysis of 
such satisfactions lends itself very readily to literary 
affectations ; and we can all think of instances where 
it has shown itself apt to exercise a morbid influence, 
even upon an author's choice of language and the 
turn of his sentences. And yet there is much that 
116 



ROADS 

makes the attempt attractive; for any expression, 
however imperfect, once given to a cherished feel- 
ing, seems a sort of legitimation of the pleasure we 
take in it. A common sentiment is one of those 
great goods that make life palatable and ever new. 
The knowledge that another has felt as we have 
felt, and seen things, even if they are little things, 
not much otherwise than we have seen them, will 
continue to the end to be one of life's choicest 
pleasures. 

Let the reader, then,* betake himself in the spirit 
we have recommended to some of the quieter kinds 
of English landscape. In those homely and placid 
agricultural districts, familiarity will bring into relief 
many things worthy of notice, and urge them plea- 
santly home to him by a sort of loving repetition ; 
such as the wonderful life-giving speed of windmill 
sails above the stationary country ; the occurrence 
and recurrence of the same church tower at the end 
of one long vista after another : and, conspicuous 
among these sources of quiet pleasure, the character 
and variety of the road itself, along which he takes 
his way. Not only near at hand, in the lithe con- 
tortions with which it adapts itself to the inter- 
changes of level and slope, but far away also, when 
he sees a few hundred feet of it upheaved against 
a hill and shining in the afternoon sun, he will find 
it an object so changeful and enlivening that he can 
always pleasurably busy his mind about it. He may 
leave the river-side, or fall out of the way of villages, 
but the road he has always with him ; and, in the 

117 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

true humour of observation, will find in that suffi- 
cient company. From its subtle windings and 
changes of level there arises a keen and continuous 
interest, that keeps the attention ever alert and 
cheerful. Every sensitive adjustment to the con- 
tour of the ground, every little dip and swerve, 
seems instinct with life and an exquisite sense of 
balance and beauty. The road rolls upon the easy 
slopes of the country, like a long ship in the hollows 
of the sea. The very margins of waste ground, as 
they trench a little farther on the beaten way, or 
recede again to the shelter of the hedge, have some- 
thing of the same free delicacy of line — of the same 
swing and wilfulness. You might think for a whole 
summer's day (and not have thought it any nearer 
an end by evening) what concourse and succession 
of circumstances has produced the least of these 
deflections ; and it is, perhaps, just in this that we 
should look for the secret of their interest. A foot- 
path across a meadow — in all its human waywardness 
and unaccountability, in all the grata protervitas 
of its varying direction — will always be more to us 
than a railroad well engineered through a difficult 
country. 1 No reasoned sequence is thrust upon our 
attention : we seem to have slipped for one lawless 
little moment out of the iron rule of cause and 
effect ; and so we revert at once to some of the 
pleasant old heresies of personification, always poeti- 

1 Compare Blake, in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell : ' Improvement 
makes straight roads ; but the crooked roads, without improvement, are 
roads of Genius. ' 

118 



ROADS 

cally orthodox, and attribute a sort of free will, an 
active and spontaneous life, to the white riband of 
road that lengthens out, and bends, and cunningly 
adapts itself to the inequalities of the land before 
our eyes. We remember, as we write, some miles 
of fine wide highway laid out with conscious aesthetic 
artifice through a broken and richly cultivated tract 
of country. It is said that the engineer had Hogarth's 
line of beauty in his mind as he laid them down. 
And the result is striking. One splendid satisfying 
sweep passes with easy transition into another, and 
there is nothing to trouble or dislocate the strong 
continuousness of the main line of the road. And 
yet there is something wanting. There is here no 
saving imperfection, none of those secondary curves 
and little trepidations of direction that carry, in 
natural roads, our curiosity actively along with them. 
One feels at once that this road has not grown like a 
natural road, but has been laboriously made to pattern ; 
and that, while a model may be academically correct 
in outline, it will always be inanimate and cold. 
The traveller is also aware of a sympathy of mood 
between himself and the road he travels. We have 
all seen ways that have wandered into heavy sand 
near the sea-coast, and trail wearily over the dunes 
like a trodden serpent : here we too must plod 
forward at a dull, laborious pace; and so a sym- 
pathy is preserved between our frame of mind and 
the expression of the relaxed, heavy curves of the 
roadway. Such a phenomenon, indeed, our reason 
might perhaps resolve with a little trouble. We 

119 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

might reflect that the present road had been 
developed out of a track spontaneously followed 
by generations of primitive wayfarers ; and might 
see in its expression a testimony that those genera- 
tions had been affected at the same ground, one 
after another, in the same manner as we are affected 
to-day. Or we might carry the reflection further, 
and remind ourselves that where the air is invito- 
rating and the ground firm under the traveller's 
foot, his eye is quick to take advantage of small 
undulations, and he will turn carelessly aside from 
the direct way wherever there is anything beautiful 
to examine or some promise of a wider view ; so 
that even a bush of wild roses may permanently bias 
and deform the straight path over the meadow ; 
whereas, where the soil is heavy, one is pre-occupied 
with the labour of mere progression, and goes with 
a bowed head heavily and unobservantly forward. 
Reason, however, will not carry us the whole way ; 
for the sentiment often recurs in situations where 
it is very hard to imagine any possible explanation ; 
and indeed, if we drive briskly along a good, well- 
made road in an open vehicle, we shall experience 
this sympathy almost at its fullest. We feel the 
sharp settle of the springs at some curiously twisted 
corner ; after a steep ascent, the fresh air dances in 
our faces as we rattle precipitately down the other 
side, and we find it difficult to avoid attributing 
something headlong, a sort of abandon, to the road 
itself. 

The mere winding of the path is enough to enliven 

I2Q 



ROADS 

a long day's walk in even a commonplace or dreary 
country-side. Something that we have seen from 
miles back, upon an eminence, is so long hid from 
us, as we wander through folded valleys or among 
woods, that our expectation of seeing it again is 
sharpened into a violent appetite, and as we draw 
nearer we impatiently quicken our steps and turn 
every corner with a beating heart. It is through 
these prolongations of expectancy, this succession 
of one hope to another, that we live out long 
seasons of pleasure in a few hours' walk. It is in 
following these capricious sinuosities that we learn, 
only bit by bit and through one coquettish reticence 
after another, much as we learn the heart of a friend, 
the whole loveliness of the country. This disposi- 
tion always preserves something new to be seen, 
and takes us, like a careful cicerone, to many dif- 
ferent points of distant view before it allows us 
finally to approach the hoped-for destination. 

In its connection with the traffic, and whole friendly 
intercourse with the country, there is something very 
pleasant in that succession of saunterers and brisk 
and business-like passers-by, that peoples our ways 
and helps to build up what Walt Whitman calls 
' the cheerful voice of the public road, the gay, fresh 
sentiment of the road.' But out of the great net- 
work of ways that binds all life together from the 
hill-farm to the city, there is something individual 
to most, and, on the whole, nearly as much choice 
on the score of company as on the score of beauty 
or easy travel. On some we are never long without 

121 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

the sound of wheels, and folk pass us by so thickly 
that we lose the sense of their number. But on 
others, about little-frequented districts, a meeting 
is an affair of moment ; we have the sight far off of 
some one coming towards us, the growing definite- 
ness of the person, and then the brief passage and 
salutation, and the road left empty in front of us for 
perhaps a great while to come. Such encounters 
have a wistful interest that can hardly be under- 
stood by the dweller in places more populous. We 
remember standing beside a countryman once, in 
the mouth of a quiet by-street in a city that was 
more than ordinarily crowded and bustling ; he 
seemed stunned and bewildered by the continual 
passage of different faces ; and after a long pause, 
during which he appeared to search for some suit- 
able expression, he said timidly that there seemed to 
be a great deal of meeting thereabouts. The phrase 
is significant. It is the expression of town-life in 
the language of the long, solitary country highways. 
A meeting of one with one was what this man had 
been used to in the pastoral uplands from which he 
came ; and the concourse of the streets was in his 
eyes only an extraordinary multiplication of such 
'meetings.' 

And now we come to that last and most subtle 
quality of all, to that sense of prospect, of outlook, 
that is brought so powerfully to our minds by a 
road. In real nature as well as in old landscapes, 
beneath that impartial daylight in which a whole 
variegated plain is plunged and saturated, the line 
122 



ROADS 

of the road leads the eye forth with the vague sense 
of desire up to the green limit of the horizon. Travel 
is brought home to us, and we visit in spirit every 
grove and hamlet that tempts us in the distance. 
Sehnsucht — the passion for what is ever beyond — is 
living] y expressed in that white riband of possible 
travel that severs the uneven country ; not a plough- 
man following his plough up the shining furrow, not 
the blue smoke of any cottage in a hollow, but is 
brought to us with a sense of nearness and attain- 
ability by this wavering line of junction. There is 
a passionate paragraph in Werther that strikes the 
very key. ' When I came hither,' he writes, ' how 
the beautiful valley invited me on every side, as I 
gazed down into it from the hill-top ! There the 
wood — ah, that I might mingle in its shadows ! there 
the mountain summits — ah, that I might look down 
from them over the broad country ! the interlinked 
hills ! the secret valleys ! O, to lose myself among 
their mysteries ! I hurried into the midst, and came 
back without finding aught I hoped for. Alas ! the 
distance is like the future. A vast whole lies in 
the twilight before our spirit ; sight and feeling alike 
plunge and lose themselves in the prospect, and we 
yearn to surrender our whole being, and let it be 
filled full with all the rapture of one single glorious 
sensation ; and alas ! when we hasten to the fruition, 
when there is changed to here, all is afterwards as 
it was before, and we stand in our indigent and 
cramped estate, and our soul thirsts after a still 
ebbing elixir.' It is to this wandering and uneasy 

123 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

spirit of anticipation that roads minister. Every 
little vista, every little glimpse that we have of what 
lies before us, gives the impatient imagination rein, 
so that it can outstrip the body and already plunge 
into the shadow of the woods, and overlook from 
the hill- top the plain beyond it, and wander in the 
windings of the valleys that are still far in front. 
The road is already there — we shall not be long 
behind. It is as if we were marching with the rear 
of a great army, and, from far before, heard the 
acclamation of the people as the vanguard entered 
some friendly and jubilant city. Would not every 
man, through all the long miles of march, feel as 
if he also were within the gates ? 

IV 

NOTES ON THE MOVEMENTS OF YOUNG 
CHILDREN 

(1874) 
I wish to direct the reader's attention to a certain 
quality in the movements of children when young, 
which is somehow lovable in them, although it would 
be even unpleasant in any grown person. Their 
movements are not graceful, but they fall short of 
grace by something so sweetly humorous that we 
only admire them the more. The imperfection is so 
pretty and pathetic, and it gives so great a promise 
of something different in the future, that it attracts 
us more than many forms of beauty. They have 
something of the merit of a rough sketch by a master, 
124 



MOVEMENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN 

in which we pardon what is wanting or excessive 
for the sake of the very bluntness and directness 
of the thing. It gives us pleasure to see the 
beginning of gracious impulses and the springs of 
harmonious movement laid bare to us with innocent 
simplicity. 

One night some ladies formed a sort of impromptu 
dancing-school in the drawing-room of an hotel in 
France. One of the ladies led the ring, and I can 
recall her as a model of accomplished, cultured 
movement. Two little girls, about eight years old, 
were the pupils ; that is an age of great interest in 
girls, when natural grace comes to its consummation 
of justice and purity, with little admixture of that 
other grace of forethought and discipline that will 
shortly supersede it altogether. In these two, 
particularly, the rhythm was sometimes broken by 
an excess of energy, as though the pleasure of the 
music in their light bodies could endure no longer 
the restraint of regulated dance. So that, between 
these and the lady, there was not only some begin- 
ning of the very contrast I wish to insist upon, but 
matter enough to set one thinking a long while on 
the beauty of motion. I do not know that, here in 
England, we have any good opportunity of seeing 
what that is ; the generation of British dancing men 
and women are certainly more remarkable for other 
qualities than for grace : they are, many of them, 
very conscientious artists, and give quite a serious 
regard to the technical parts of their performance ; 
but the spectacle, somehow, is not often beautiful, 

125 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

and strikes no note of pleasure. If I had seen no 
more, therefore, this evening might have remained 
in my memory as a rare experience. But the best 
part of it was yet to come. For after the others had 
desisted, the musician still continued to play, and a 
little button between two and three years old came 
out into the cleared space and began to figure before 
us as the music prompted. I had an opportunity of 
seeing her, not on this night only, but on many 
subsequent nights ; and the wonder and comical 
admiration she inspired was only deepened as time 
went on. She had an admirable musical ear ; and 
each new melody, as it struck in her a new humour, 
suggested wonderful combinations and variations of 
movement. Now it would be a dance with which 
she would suit the music, now rather an appropriate 
pantomime, and now a mere string of disconnected 
attitudes. But whatever she did, she did it with the 
same verve and gusto. The spirit of the air seemed 
to have entered into her, and to possess her like a 
passion ; and you could see her struggling to find 
expression for the beauty that was in her against the 
inefficacy of the dull, half-informed body. Though 
her footing was uneven, and her gestures often 
ludicrously helpless, still the spectacle was not 
merely amusing ; and though subtle inspirations of 
movement miscarried in tottering travesty, you could 
still see that they had been inspirations ; you 
could still see that she had set her heart on realising 
something just and beautiful, and that, by the dis- 
cipline of these abortive efforts, she was making for 
126 



MOVEMENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN 

herself in the future a quick, supple, and obedient 
body. It was grace in the making. She was not to 
be daunted by any merriment of people looking on 
critically ; the music said something to her, and her 
whole spirit was intent on what the music said : she 
must carry out its suggestions, she must do her best 
to translate its language into that other dialect of 
the modulated body into which it can be translated 
most easily and fully. 

Just the other day I was witness to a second scene, 
in which the motive was something similar; only 
this time with quite common children, and in the 
familiar neighbourhood of Hampstead. A little 
congregation had formed itself in the lane under- 
neath my window, and was busy over a skipping- 
rope. There were two sisters, from seven to nine 
perhaps, with dark faces and dark hair, and slim, 
lithe, little figures clad in lilac frocks. The elder of 
these two was mistress of the art of skipping. She 
was just and adroit in every movement ; the rope 
passed over her black head and under her scarlet- 
stockinged legs with a precision and regularity 
that was like machinery ; but there was nothing 
mechanical in the infinite variety and sweetness of 
her inclinations, and the spontaneous agile flexure 
of her lean waist and hips. There was one variation 
favourite with her, in which she crossed her hands 
before her with a motion not unlike that of weaving, 
which was admirably intricate and complete. And 
when the two took the rope together and whirled in 
and out with occasional interruptions, there was 

127 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

something Italian in the type of both — in the length 
of nose, in the slimness and accuracy of the shapes — 
and something gay and harmonious in the double 
movement, that added to the whole scene a southern 
element, and took me over sea and land into dis- 
tant and beautiful places. Nor was this impression 
lessened when the elder girl took in her arms a 
fair-haired baby, and while the others held the rope 
for her, turned and gyrated, and went in and out over 
it lightly, with a quiet regularity that seemed as if 
it might go on for ever. Somehow, incongruous as 
was the occupation, she reminded me of Italian 
Madonnas. And now, as before in the hotel drawing- 
room, the humorous element was to be introduced ; 
only this time it was in broad farce. The funniest 
little girl, with a mottled complexion and a big, 
damaged nose, and looking for all the world like any 
dirty, broken-nosed doll in a nursery lumber-room, 
came forward to take her turn. While the others 
swung the rope for her as gently as it could be done 
— a mere mockery of movement — and playfully 
taunted her timidity, she passaged backwards and 
forwards in a pretty flutter of indecision, putting up 
her shoulders and laughing with the embarrassed 
laughter of children by the water's edge, eager to 
bathe and yet fearful. There never was anything at 
once so droll and so pathetic. One did not know 
whether to laugh or to cry. And when at last she 
had made an end of all her deprecations and drawings 
back, and summoned up heart enough to straddle 
over the rope, one leg at a time, it was a sight to see 
128 



MOVEMENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN 

her ruffle herself up like a peacock and go away- 
down the lane with her damaged nose, seeming to 
think discretion the better part of valour, and rather 
uneasy lest they should ask her to repeat the exploit. 
Much as I had enjoyed the grace of the older girls, 
it was now just as it had been before in France, and 
the clumsiness of the child seemed to have a signifi- 
cance and a sort of beauty of its own, quite above 
this grace of the others in power to affect the heart. 
I had looked on with a certain sense of balance and 
completion at the silent, rapid, masterly evolutions 
of the eldest ; I had been pleased by these in the 
way of satisfaction. But when little broken-nose 
began her pantomime of indecision I grew excited. 
There was something quite fresh and poignant in 
the delight I took in her imperfect movements. I 
remember, for instance, that I moved my own 
shoulders, as if to imitate her; really, I suppose, 
with an inarticulate wish to help her out. 

Now, there are many reasons why this graceless- 
ness of young children should be pretty and sym- 
pathetic to us. And, first, there is an interest as of 
battle. It is in travail and laughable fiasco that the 
young school their bodies to beautiful expression, 
as they school their minds. We seem, in watching 
them, to divine antagonists pitted one against the 
other ; and, as in other wars, so in this war of the 
intelligence against the unwilling body, we do not 
wish to see even the cause of progress triumph 
without some honourable toil ; and we are so sure of 
the ultimate result, that it pleases us to linger in 
21 — i 129 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

pathetic sympathy over these reverses of the early 
campaign, just as we do over the troubles that 
environ the heroine of a novel on her way to the 
happy ending. Again, people are very ready to 
disown the pleasure they take in a thing merely 
because it is big, as an Alp, or merely because it is 
little, as a little child ; and yet this pleasure is surely 
as legitimate as another. There is much of it here ; 
we have an irrational indulgence for small folk ; we 
ask but little where there is so little to ask it of ; we 
cannot overcome our astonishment that they should 
be able to move at all, and are interested in their 
movements somewhat as we are interested in the 
movements of a puppet. And again, there is a 
prolongation of expectancy when, as in these move- 
ments of children, we are kept continually on the 
very point of attainment and ever turned away and 
tantalised by some humorous imperfection. This is 
altogether absent in the secure and accomplished 
movements of persons more fully grown. The tight- 
rope walker does not walk so freely or so well as any 
one else can walk upon a good road ; and yet we like 
to watch him for the mere sake of the difficulty ; we 
like to see his vacillations ; we like this last so much 
even, that I am told a really artistic tight-rope 
walker must feign to be troubled in his balance, even 
if he is not so really. And again, we have in these 
baby efforts an assurance of spontaneity that we do 
not have often. We know this at least certainly, 
that the child tries to dance for its own pleasure, and 
not for any by-end of ostentation and conformity. 
130 



MOVEMENTS OF YOUNG CHILDREN 

If we did not know it we should see it. There is 
a sincerity, a directness, an impulsive truth, about 
their free gestures that shows throughout all imper- 
fection, and it is to us as a reminiscence of primitive 
festivals and the Golden Age. * Lastly, there is in 
the sentiment much of a simple human compassion 
for creatures more helpless than ourselves. One 
nearly ready to die is pathetic ; and so is one scarcely 
ready to live. In view of their future, our heart is 
softened to these clumsy little ones. They will be 
more adroit when they are not so happy. 

Unfortunately, then, this character that so much 
delights us is not one that can be preserved by any 
plastic art. It turns, as we have seen, upon con- 
sideration not really assthetic. Art may deal with 
the slim freedom of a few years later ; but with this 
fettered impulse, with these stammering motions, 
she is powerless to do more than stereotype what is 
ungraceful, and, in the doing of it, lose all pathos 
and humanity. So these humorous little ones must 
go away into the limbo of beautiful things that are 
not beautiful for art, there to wait a more perfect 
age before they sit for their portraits. 



v 

ON THE ENJOYMENT OF UNPLEASANT 
PLACES 

(1874) 
It is a difficult matter to make the most of any 
given place, and we have much in our own power. 

131 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

Things looked at patiently from one side after 
another generally end by showing a side that is 
beautiful. A few months ago some words were 
said in the Portfolio as to an ' austere regimen in 
scenery'; and such a discipline was then recom- 
mended as * healthful and strengthening to the 
taste.' That is the text, so to speak, of the present 
essay. This discipline in scenery, it must be under- 
stood, is something more than a mere walk before 
breakfast to whet the appetite. For when we are 
put down in some unsightly neighbourhood, and 
especially if we have come to be more or less 
dependent on what we see, we must set ourselves 
to hunt out beautiful things with all the ardour and 
patience of a botanist after a rare plant. Day by 
day we perfect ourselves in the art of seeing nature 
more favourably. We learn to live with her, as 
people learn to live with fretful or violent spouses : 
to dwell lovingly on what is good, and shut our eyes 
against all that is bleak or inharmonious. We learn, 
also, to come to each place in the right spirit. The 
traveller, as Brantome quaintly tells us, 'fait des 
discours en soi pour se soutenir en chemin ' ; and into 
these discourses he weaves something out of all that 
he sees and suffers by the way : they take their tone 
greatly from the varying character of the scene ; a 
sharp ascent brings different thoughts from a level 
road ; and the man's fancies grow lighter as he 
comes out of the wood into a clearing. Nor does 
the scenery any more affect the thoughts than the 
thoughts affect the scenery. We see places through 
132 



UNPLEASANT PLACES 

our humours as through differently-coloured glasses. 
We are ourselves a term in the equation, a note of 
the chord, and make discord or harmony almost at 
will. There is no fear for the result, if we can but 
surrender ourselves sufficiently to the country that 
surrounds and follows us, so that we are ever think- 
ing suitable thoughts or telling ourselves some 
suitable sort of story as we go. We become thus, 
in some sense, a centre of beauty ; we are provo- 
cative of beauty, much as a gentle and sincere 
character is provocative of sincerity and gentleness 
in others. And even where there is no harmony to 
be elicited by the quickest and most obedient of 
spirits, we may still embellish a place with some 
attraction of romance. We may learn to go far 
afield for associations, and handle them lightly when 
we have found them. Sometimes an old print 
comes to our aid ; I have seen many a spot lit up 
at once with picturesque imaginations, by a reminis- 
cence of Callot, or Sadeler, or Paul Brill. Dick 
Turpin has been my lay figure for many an English 
lane. And I suppose the Trossachs would hardly 
be the Trossachs for most tourists if a man of 
admirable romantic instinct had not peopled it for 
them with harmonious figures, and brought them 
thither with minds rightly prepared for the impres- 
sion. There is half the battle in this preparation. 
For instance : I have rarely been able to visit, in the 
proper spirit, the wild and inhospitable places of our 
own Highlands. I am happier where it is tame and 
fertile, and not readily pleased without trees. I 

133 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

understand that there are some phases of mental 
trouble that harmonise well with such surroundings, 
and that some persons, by the dispensing power of 
the imagination, can go back several centuries in 
spirit, and put themselves into sympathy with the 
hunted, houseless, unsociable way of life that was 
in its place upon these savage hills. Now, when I 
am sad, I like nature to charm me out of my 
sadness, like David before Saul ; and the thought 
of these past ages strikes nothing in me but an 
unpleasant pity ; so that I can never hit on the 
right humour for this sort of landscape, and lose 
much pleasure in consequence. Still, even here, if 
I were only let alone, and time enough were given, 
I should have all manner of pleasures, and take 
many clear and beautiful images away with me when 
I left. When we cannot think ourselves into 
sympathy with the great features of a country, we 
learn to ignore them, and put our head among the 
grass for flowers, or pore, for long times together, 
over the changeful current of a stream. We come 
down to the sermon in stones, when we are shut out 
from any poem in the spread landscape. We begin 
to peep and botanise, we take an interest in birds 
and insects, we find many things beautiful in minia- 
ture. The reader will recollect the little summer 
scene in Wuthering Heights — the one warm scene, 
perhaps, in all that powerful, miserable novel — and 
the great feature that is made therein by grasses 
and flowers and a little sunshine : this is in the 
spirit of which I now speak. And, lastly, we can 

134 



UNPLEASANT PLACES 

go indoors ; interiors are sometimes as beautiful, 
often more picturesque, than the shows of the open 
air, and they have that quality of shelter of which 
I shall presently have more to say. 

With all this in mind, I have often been tempted 
to put forth the paradox that any place is good 
enough to live a life in, while it is only in a few, and 
those highly favoured, that we can pass a few hours 
agreeably. For, if we only stay long enough, we 
become at home in the neighbourhood. Reminis- 
cences spring up, like flowers, about uninteresting 
corners. We forget to some degree the superior 
loveliness of other places, and fall into a tolerant 
and sympathetic spirit which is its own reward and 
justification. Looking back the other day on some 
recollections of my own, I was astonished to find 
how much I owed to such a residence ; six weeks 
in one unpleasant country-side had done more, it 
seemed, to quicken and educate my sensibilities than 
many years in places that jumped more nearly with 
my inclination. 

The country to which I refer was a level and 
treeless plateau, over which the winds cut like a 
whip. For miles on miles it was the same. A 
river, indeed, fell into the sea near the town where 
I resided ; but the valley of the river was shallow 
and bald, for as far up as ever I had the heart to 
follow it. There were roads, certainly, but roads 
that had no beauty or interest ; for, as there was no 
timber, and but little irregularity of surface, you 
saw your whole walk exposed to you from the 

135 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

beginning : there was nothing left to fancy, nothing 
to expect, nothing to see by the wayside, save here 
and there an unhomely-looking homestead, and 
here and there a solitary, spectacled stone-breaker ; 
and you were only accompanied, as you went 
doggedly forward, by the gaunt telegraph-posts and 
the hum of the resonant wires in the keen sea-wind. 
To one who had learned to know their song in 
warm pleasant places by the Mediterranean, it 
seemed to taunt the country, and make it still 
bleaker by suggested contrast. Even the waste 
places by the side of the road were not, as Haw- 
thorne liked to put it, ' taken back to Nature ' by 
any decent covering of vegetation. Wherever the 
land had the chance, it seemed to lie fallow. There 
is a certain tawny nudity of the South, bare sun- 
burnt plains, coloured like a lion, and hills clothed 
only in the blue transparent air; but this was of 
another description — this was the nakedness of the 
North ; the earth seemed to know that it was naked, 
and was ashamed and cold. 

It seemed to be always blowing on that coast. 
Indeed, this had passed into the speech of the in- 
habitants, and they saluted each other when they 
met with ' Breezy, breezy,' instead of the customary 
' Fine day ' of farther south. These continual winds 
were not like the harvest breeze, that just keeps an 
equable pressure against your face as you walk, and 
serves to set all the trees talking over your head, or 
bring round you the smell of the wet surface of the 
country after a shower. They were of the bitter, 
136 



UNPLEASANT PLACES 

hard, persistent sort, that interferes with sight and 
respiration, and makes the eyes sore. Even such 
winds as these have their own merit in proper time 
and place. It is pleasant to see them brandish great 
masses of shadow. And what a power they have 
over the colour of the world ! How they ruffle the 
solid woodlands in their passage, and make them 
shudder and whiten like a single willow ! There is 
nothing more vertiginous than a wind like this 
among the woods, with all its sights and noises ; and 
the effect gets between some painters and their 
sober eyesight, so that, even when the rest of their 
picture is calm, the foliage is coloured like foliage in 
a gale. There was nothing, however, of this sort to 
be noticed in a country where there were no trees 
and hardly any shadows, save the passive shadows of 
clouds or those of rigid houses and walls. But the 
wind was nevertheless an occasion of pleasure ; for 
nowhere could you taste more fully the pleasure of 
a sudden lull, or a place of opportune shelter. The 
reader knows what I mean ; he must remember how, 
when he has sat himself down behind a dyke on a 
hill-side, he delighted to hear the wind hiss vainly 
through the crannies at his back; how his body 
tingled all over with warmth, and it began to dawn 
upon him, with a sort of slow surprise, that the 
country was beautiful, the heather purple, and the 
far-away hills all marbled with sun and shadow. 
Wordsworth, in a beautiful passage of the ' Prelude,' 
has used this as a figure for the feeling struck 
in us by the quiet by-streets of London after the 

137 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

uproar of the great thoroughfares ; and the com- 
parison may be turned the other way with as good 
effect : 

' Meanwhile the roar continues, till at length, 
Escaped as from an enemy, we turn 
Abruptly into some sequester'd nook, 
Still as a shelter'd place when winds blow loud ! ' 

I remember meeting a man once, in a train, who 
told me of what must have been quite the most 
perfect instance of this pleasure of escape. He had 
gone up, one sunny, windy morning, to the top of a 
great cathedral somewhere abroad ; I think it was 
Cologne Cathedral, the great unfinished marvel by 
the Rhine ; and after a long while in dark stairways, 
he issued at last into the sunshine, on a platform 
high above the town. At that elevation it was 
quite still and warm ; the gale was only in the lower 
strata of the air, and he had forgotten it in the quiet 
interior of the church and during his long ascent ; 
and so you may judge of his surprise when, resting 
his arms on the sunlit balustrade and looking over 
into the Place far below him, he saw the good 
people holding on their hats and leaning hard 
against the wind as they walked. There is some- 
thing, to my fancy, quite perfect in this little 
experience of my fellow-traveller's. The ways of 
men seem always very trivial to us when we find 
ourselves alone on a church top, with the blue 
sky and a few tall pinnacles, and see far below 
us the steep roofs and foreshortened buttresses, 
and the silent activity of the city streets ; but how 
138 



UNPLEASANT PLACES 

much more must they not have seemed so to him 
as he stood, not only above other men's business, 
but above other men's climate, in a golden zone 
like Apollo's. 

This was the sort of pleasure I found in the 
country of which I write. The pleasure was to be 
out of the wind, and to keep it in memory all the 
time, and hug oneself upon the shelter. And it 
was only by the sea that any such sheltered places 
were to be found. Between the black worm-eaten 
headlands there are little bights and havens, well 
screened from the wind and the commotion of the 
external sea, where the sand and weeds look up into 
the gazer's face from a depth of tranquil water, and 
the sea-birds, screaming and flickering from the 
ruined crags, alone disturb the silence and the sun- 
shine. One such place has impressed itself on my 
memory beyond all others. On a rock by the 
water's edge, old fighting men of the Norse breed 
had planted a double castle ; the two stood wall 
to wall like semi-detached villas ; and yet feud had 
run so high between their owners, that one, from 
out of a window, shot the other as he stood in his 
own doorway. There is something in the juxta- 
position of these two enemies full of tragic irony. 
It is grim to think of bearded men and bitter 
women taking hateful counsel together about the 
two hall-fires at night, when the sea boomed against 
the foundations and the wild winter wind was loose 
over the battlements. And in the study we may 
reconstruct for ourselves some pale figure of what 

139 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

life then was. Not so when we are there ; when 
we are there such thoughts come to us only to 
intensify a contrary impression, and association is 
turned against itself. I remember walking thither 
three afternoons in succession, my eyes weary with 
being set against the wind, and how, dropping sud- 
denly over the edge of the down, I found myself in 
a new world of warmth and shelter. The wind, 
from which I had escaped, 'as from an enemy,' 
was seemingly quite local. It carried no clouds 
with it, and came from such a quarter that it did 
not trouble the sea within view. The two castles, 
black and ruinous as the rocks about them, were 
still distinguishable from these by something more 
insecure and fantastic in the outline, something that 
the last storm had left imminent and the next would 
demolish entirely. It would be difficult to render 
in words the sense of peace that took possession of 
me on these three afternoons. It was helped out, 
as I have said, by the contrast. The shore was 
battered and bemauled by previous tempests ; I had 
the memory at heart of the insane strife of the 
pigmies who had erected these two castles and lived 
in them in mutual distrust and enmity, and knew I had 
only to put my head out of this little cup of shelter 
to find the hard wind blowing in my eyes ; and yet 
there were the two great tracts of motionless blue 
air and peaceful sea looking on, unconcerned and 
apart, at the turmoil of the present moment and 
the memorials of the precarious past. There is ever 
something transitory and fretful in the impression of 
140 



UNPLEASANT PLACES 

a high wind under a cloudless sky; it seems to 
have no root in the constitution of things ; it must 
speedily begin to faint and wither away like a cut 
flower. And on those days the thought of the wind 
and the thought of human life came very near to- 
gether in my mind. Our noisy years did indeed 
seem moments in the being of the eternal silence : 
and the wind, in the face of that great field of 
stationary blue, was as the wind of a butterfly's 
wing. The placidity of the sea was a thing likewise 
to be remembered. Shelley speaks of the sea as 
'hungering for calm,' and in this place one learned 
to understand the phrase. Looking down into these 
green waters from the broken edge of the rock, or 
swimming leisurely in the sunshine, it seemed to 
me that they were enjoying their own tranquillity ; 
and when now and again it was disturbed by a 
wind ripple on the surface, or the quick black 
passage of a fish far below, they settled back again 
(one could fancy) with relief. 

On shore too, in the little nook of shelter, 
everything was so subdued and still that the least 
particular struck in me a pleasurable surprise. The 
desultory crackling of the whin-pods in the after- 
noon sun usurped the ear. The hot, sweet breath 
of the bank, that had been saturated all day long 
with sunshine, and now exhaled it into my face, 
was like the breath of a fellow-creature. I re- 
member that I was haunted by two lines of French 
verse ; in some dumb way they seemed to fit my 
surroundings and give expression to the content- 

141 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

ment that was in me, and I kept repeating to 
myself — 

1 Mon coeur est un luth suspendu, 
Sitot qu'on le touche, il resonne.' 

I can give no reason why these lines came to me at 
this time; and for that very cause I repeat them 
here. For all I know, they may serve to complete 
the impression in the mind of the reader, as they 
were certainly a part of it for me. 

And this happened to me in the place of all others 
where I liked least to stay. When I think of it I 
grow ashamed of my own ingratitude. ' Out of the 
strong came forth sweetness.' There, in the bleak 
and gusty North, I received, perhaps, my strongest 
impression of peace. I saw the sea to be great and 
calm ; and the earth, in that little corner, was all 
alive and friendly to me. So, wherever a man is, 
he will find something to please and pacify him : in 
the town he will meet pleasant faces of men and 
women, and see beautiful flowers at a window, 
or hear a cage-bird singing at the corner of the 
gloomiest street; and for the country, there is no 
country without some amenity — let him only look 
for it in the right spirit, and he will surely find. 



142 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

VI 

AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

(1875) 

'Nous ne decrivons jamais mieux la nature que lorsque nous nous 
efforcons d'exprimer sobrement et simplement l'impression que nous en 
avons recue.' — M. Andre Theuriet, 'L'Automne dans les bois,' Revue 
des Deux Mondes, 1st Oct. 1874, p. 562. x 

A country rapidly passed through under favourable 
auspices may leave upon us a unity of impression 
that would only be disturbed and dissipated if we 
stayed longer. Clear vision goes with the quick 
foot. Things fall for us into a sort of natural per- 
spective when we see them for a moment in going 
by ; we generalise boldly and simply, and are gone 
before the sun is overcast, before the rain falls, 
before the season can steal like a dial-hand from 
his figure, before the lights and shadows, shifting 
round towards nightfall, can show us the other side 
of things, and belie what they showed us in the 
morning. We expose our mind to the landscape (as 
we would expose the prepared plate in the camera) 
for the moment only during which the effect endures; 
and we are away before the effect can change. 

1 I had nearly finished the transcription of the following pages, when 
I saw on a friend's table the number containing the piece from which 
this sentence is extracted, and, struck with a similarity of title, took it 
home with me and read it with indescribable satisfaction. I do not know 
whether I more envy M. Theuriet the pleasure of having written this 
delightful article, or the reader the pleasure, which I hope he has still 
before him, of reading it once and again, and lingering over the passages 
that please him most. 

H3 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

Hence we shall have in our memories a long scroll 
of continuous wayside pictures, all imbued already 
with the prevailing sentiment of the season, the 
weather, and the landscape, and certain to be unified 
more and more, as time goes on, by the unconscious 
processes of thought. So that we who have only 
looked at a country over our shoulder, so to speak, 
as we went by, will have a conception of it far more 
memorable and articulate than a man who has 
lived there all his life from a child upwards, and 
had his impression of to-day modified by that of 
to-morrow, and belied by that of the day after, till 
at length the stable characteristics of the country 
are all blotted out from him behind the confusion of 
variable effect. 

I began my little pilgrimage in the most enviable 
of all humours : that in which a person, with a 
sufficiency of money and a knapsack, turns his back 
on a town and walks forward into a country of 
which he knows only by the vague report of others. 
Such an one has not surrendered his will and con- 
tracted for the next hundred miles, like a man on 
a railway. He may change his mind at every finger- 
post, and, where ways meet, follow vague preferences 
freely and go the low road or the high, choose the 
shadow or the sunshine, suffer himself to be tempted 
by the lane that turns immediately into the woods, 
or the broad road that lies open before him into the 
distance, and shows him the far-off spires of some 
city, or a range of mountain tops, or a rim of sea, 
perhaps, along a low horizon. In short, he may 
144 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

gratify his every whim and fancy, without a pang 
of reproving conscience, or the least jostle to his 
self-respect. It is true, however, that most men do 
not possess the faculty of free action, the priceless 
gift of being able to live for the moment only ; and 
as they begin to go forward on their journey, they 
will find that they have made for themselves new 
fetters. Slight projects they may have entertained 
for a moment, half in jest, become iron laws to them, 
they know not why. They will be led by the nose 
by these vague reports of which I spoke above ; and 
the mere fact that their informant mentioned one 
village and not another will compel their footsteps 
with inexplicable power. And yet a little while, 
yet a few days of this fictitious liberty, and they 
will begin to hear imperious voices calling on them 
to return ; and some passion, some duty, some 
worthy or unworthy expectation, will set its hand 
upon their shoulder and lead them back into the old 
paths. Once and again we have all made the ex- 
periment. We know the end of it right well. And 
yet if we make it for the hundredth time to-morrow, 
it will have the same charm as ever ; our heart will 
beat and our eyes will be bright, as we leave the 
town behind us, and we shall feel once again (as we 
have felt so often before) that we are cutting our- 
selves loose for ever from our whole past life, with 
all its sins and follies and circumscriptions, and go 
forward as a new creature into a new world. 

It was well, perhaps, that I had this first en- 
thusiasm to encourage me up the long hill above 
21— k 145 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

High Wycombe ; for the day was a bad day for 
walking at best, and now began to draw towards 
afternoon, dull, heavy, and lifeless. A pall of grey 
cloud covered the sky, and its colour reacted on the 
colour of the landscape. Near at hand, indeed, the 
hedgerow trees were still fairly green, shot through 
with bright autumnal yellows, bright as sunshine. 
But a little way off, the solid bricks of woodland 
that lay squarely on slope and hill- top were not green, 
but russet and grey, and ever less russet and more 
grey as they drew off into the distance. As they 
drew off into the distance, also, the woods seemed to 
mass themselves together, and lay thin and straight, 
like clouds, upon the limit of one's view. Not that 
this massing was complete, or gave the idea of any 
extent of forest, for every here and there the trees 
would break up and go down into a valley in open 
order, or stand in long Indian file along the horizon, 
tree after tree relieved, foolishly enough, against the 
sky. I say foolishly enough, although I have seen 
the effect employed cleverly in art, and such long 
line of single trees thrown out against the customary 
sunset of a Japanese picture with a certain fantastic 
effect that was not to be despised ; but this was 
over water and level land, where it did not jar, as 
here, with the soft contour of hills and valleys. 
The whole scene had an indefinable look of being 
painted, the colour was so abstract and correct, and 
there was something so sketchy and merely im- 
pressional about these distant single trees on the 
horizon that one was forced to think of it all as 
146 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

of a clever French landscape. For it is rather in 
nature that we see resemblance to art, than in art 
to nature ; and we say a hundred times, ' How like 
a picture ! ' for once that we say, * How like the 
truth ! ' The forms in which we learn to think of 
landscape are forms that we have got from painted 
canvas. Any man can see and understand a pic- 
ture ; it is reserved for the few to separate anything 
out of the confusion of nature, and see that dis- 
tinctly and with intelligence. 

The sun came out before I had been long on my 
way ; and as I had got by that time to the top of 
the ascent, and was now treading a labyrinth of 
confined by-roads, my whole view brightened con- 
siderably in colour, for it was the distance only that 
was grey and cold, and the distance I could see no 
longer. Overhead there was a wonderful carolling 
of larks which seemed to follow me as I went. 
Indeed, during all the time I was in that country 
the larks did not desert me. The air was alive with 
them from High Wycombe to Tring ; and as, day 
after day, their * shrill delight ' fell upon me out of 
the vacant sky, they began to take such a pro- 
minence over other conditions, and form so integral 
a part of my conception of the country, that I could 
have baptized it ' The Country of Larks.' This, of 
course, might just as well have been in early spring ; 
but everything else was deeply imbued with the 
sentiment of the later year. There was no stir of 
insects in the grass. The sunshine was more golden, 
and gave less heat than summer sunshine ; and the 

147 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

shadows under the hedge were somewhat blue and 
misty. It was only in autumn that you could have 
seen the mingled green and yellow of the elm 
foliage, and the fallen leaves that lay about the 
road, and covered the surface of wayside pools so 
thickly that the sun was reflected only here and 
there from little joints and pinholes in that brown 
coat of proof; or that your ear would have been 
troubled, as you went forward, by the occasional 
report of fowling-pieces from all directions and all 
degrees of distance. 

For a long time this dropping fire was the one 
sign of human activity that came to disturb me as I 
walked. The lanes were profoundly still. They 
would have been sad but for the sunshine and the 
singing of the larks. And as it was, there came 
over me at times a feeling of isolation that was not 
disagreeable, and yet was enough to make me 
quicken my steps eagerly when I saw some one 
before me on the road. This fellow-voyager proved 
to be no less a person than the parish constable. It 
had occurred to me that in a district which was so 
little populous and so well wooded, a criminal of 
any intelligence might play hide-and-seek with the 
authorities for months ; and this idea was strength- 
ened by the aspect of the portly constable as he 
walked by my side with deliberate dignity and 
turned-out toes. But a few minutes' converse set 
my heart at rest. These rural criminals are very 
tame birds, it appeared. If my informant did not 
immediately lay his hand on an offender, he was 
148 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

content to wait : some evening after nightfall there 
would come a tap at his door, and the outlaw, weary 
of outlawry, would give himself quietly up to 
undergo sentence, and resume his position in the life 
of the country-side. Married men caused him no 
disquietude whatever ; he had them fast by the foot. 
Sooner or later thev would come back to see their 
wives, a peeping neighbour would pass the word, 
and my portly constable would walk quietly over 
and take the bird sitting. And if there were a few 
who had no particular ties in the neighbourhood, 
and preferred to shift into another county when 
they fell into trouble, their departure moved the 
placid constable in no degree. He was of Dog- 
berry's opinion; and if a man would not stand in the 
Prince's name, he took no note of him, but let him 
go, and thanked God he was rid of a knave. And 
surely the crime and the law were in admirable 
keeping ; rustic constable was well met with rustic 
offender. The officer sitting at home over a bit of 
fire until the criminal came to visit him, and the 
criminal coming — it was a fair match. One felt as if 
this must have been the order in that delightful sea- 
board Bohemia where Florizel and Perdita courted 
in such sweet accents, and the Puritan sang psalms 
to hornpipes, and the four-and-twenty shearers 
danced with nosegays in their bosoms, and chanted 
their three songs apiece at the old shepherd's 
festival ; and one could not help picturing to oneself 
what havoc among good people's purses, and tribula- 
tion for benignant constable, might be worked here 

149 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

by the arrival, over stile and footpath, of a new 
Autolycus. 

Bidding good-morning to my fellow-traveller, I 
left the road and struck across country. It was 
rather a revelation to pass from between the hedge- 
rows and find quite a bustle on the other side, a 
great coming and going of school-children upon by- 
paths, and, in every second field, lusty horses and 
stout country-folk a-ploughing. The way I followed 
took me through many fields thus occupied, and 
through many strips of plantation, and then over a 
little space of smooth turf, very pleasant to the feet, 
set with tall fir-trees and clamorous with rooks 
making ready for the winter, and so back again into 
the quiet road. I was now not far from the end of 
my day's journey. A few hundred yards farther, 
and, passing through a gap in the hedge, I began to 
go down hill through a pretty extensive tract of 
young beeches. I was soon in shadow myself, but 
the afternoon sun still coloured the upmost boughs 
of the wood, and made a fire over my head in the 
autumnal foliage. A little faint vapour lay among 
the slim tree-stems in the bottom of the hollow ; 
and from farther up I heard from time to time an 
outburst of gross laughter, as though clowns were 
making merry in the bush. There was something 
about the atmosphere that brought all sights and 
sounds home to one with a singular purity, so that 
I felt as if my senses had been washed with water. 
After I had crossed the little zone of mist, the path 
began to remount the hill ; and just as I, mounting 
150 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

along with it, had got back again, from the head 
downwards, into the thin golden sunshine, I saw in 
front of me a donkey tied to a tree. Now, I have a 
certain liking for donkeys, principally, I believe, 
because of the delightful things that Sterne has 
written of them. But this was not after the pattern 
of the ass at Lyons. He was of a white colour, that 
seemed to fit him rather for rare festal occasions 
than for constant drudgery. Besides, he was very 
small, and of the daintiest proportions you can 
imagine in a donkey. And so, sure enough, you 
had only to look at him to see he had never worked. 
There was something too roguish and wanton in his 
face, a look too like that of a schoolboy or a street 
Arab, to have survived much cudgelling. It was 
plain that these feet had kicked off sportive children 
oftener than they had plodded with a freight through 
miry lanes. He was altogether a fine-weather, 
holiday sort of donkey; and though he was just 
then somewhat solemnised and rueful, he still gave 
proof of the levity of his disposition by impudently 
wagging his ears at me as I drew near. I say he 
was somewhat solemnised just then ; for, with the 
admirable instinct of all men and animals under 
restraint, he had so wound and wound the halter 
about the tree that he could go neither back nor 
forwards, nor so much as put down his head to 
browse. There he stood, poor rogue, part puzzled, 
part angry, part, I believe, amused. He had not 
given up hope, and dully revolved the problem in 
his head, giving ever and again another jerk at the 

151 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

few inches of free rope that still remained unwound. 
A humorous sort of sympathy for the creature took 
hold upon me. I went up, and, not without some 
trouble on my part, and much distrust and resistance 
on the part of Neddy, got him forced backward 
until the whole length of the halter was set loose, 
and he was once more as free a donkey as I dared to 
make him. I was pleased (as people are) with this 
friendly action to a fellow-creature in tribulation, 
and glanced back over my shoulder to see how he 
was profiting by his freedom. The brute was 
looking after me ; and no sooner did he catch my 
eye than he put up his long white face into the air, 
pulled an impudent mouth at me, and began to bray 
derisively. If ever any one person made a grimace 
at another, that donkey made a grimace at me. 
The hardened ingratitude of his behaviour, and the 
impertinence that inspired his whole face as he 
curled up his lip, and showed his teeth, and began to 
bray, so tickled me, and was so much in keeping 
with what I had imagined to myself about his 
character, that I could not find it in my heart to be 
angry, and burst into a peal of hearty laughter. 
This seemed to strike the ass as a repartee, so he 
brayed at me again by way of rejoinder ; and we 
went on for a while, braying and laughing, until I 
began to grow a -weary of it, and, shouting a derisive 
farewell, turned to pursue my way. In so doing — it 
was like going suddenly into cold water — I found 
myself face to face with a prim little old maid. She 
was all in a flutter, the poor old dear! She had 
152 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

concluded beyond question that this must be a 
lunatic who stood laughing aloud at a white donkey 
in the placid beech-woods. I was sure, by her face, 
that she had already recommended her spirit most 
religiously to Heaven, and prepared herself for the 
worst. And so, to reassure her, I uncovered and 
besought her, after a very staid fashion, to put me 
on my way to Great Missenden. Her voice trembled 
a little, to be sure, but I think her mind was set 
at rest ; and she told me, very explicitly, to follow 
the path until I came to the end of the wood, and 
then I should see the village below me in the 
bottom of the valley. And, with mutual courtesies, 
the little old maid and I went on our respective 
ways. 

Nor had she misled me. Great Missenden was 
close at hand, as she had said, in the trough of a 
gentle valley, with many great elms about it. The 
smoke from its chimneys went up pleasantly in the 
afternoon sunshine. The sleepy hum of a threshing- 
machine filled the neighbouring fields and hung 
about the quaint street corners. A little above, the 
church sits well back on its haunches against the 
hill-side — an attitude for a church, you know, that 
makes it look as if it could be ever so much higher 
if it liked ; and the trees grew about it thickly, so as 
to make a density of shade in the churchyard. A 
very quiet place it looks ; and yet I saw many 
boards and posters about threatening dire punish- 
ment against those who broke the church windows 
or defaced the precinct, and offering rewards for the 

153 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

apprehension of those who had done the like already. 
It was fair-day in Great Missenden. There were 
three stalls set up, sub jove, for the sale of pastry 
and cheap toys ; and a great number of holiday 
children thronged about the stalls, and noisily 
invaded every corner of the straggling village. They 
came round me by coveys, blowing simultaneously 
upon penny trumpets as though they imagined I 
should fall to pieces like the battlements of Jericho. 
I noticed one among them who could make a wheel 
of himself like a London boy, and seemingly enjoyed 
a grave pre-eminence upon the strength of the 
accomplishment. By-and-by, however, the trumpets 
began to weary me, and I went indoors, leaving the 
fair, I fancy, at its height. 

Night had fallen before I ventured forth again. 
It was pitch dark in the village street, and the 
darkness seemed only the greater for a light here 
and there in an uncurtained window or from an 
open door. Into one such window I was rude 
enough to peep, and saw within a charming genre 
picture. In a room, all white wainscot and crimson 
wall-paper, a perfect gem of colour after the black, 
empty darkness in which I had been groping, a 
pretty girl was telling a story, as well as I could 
make out, to an attentive child upon her knee, while 
an old woman sat placidly dozing over the fire. 
You may be sure I was not behindhand with a story 
for myself — a good old story after the manner of 
G. P. R. James and the village melodramas, with a 
wicked squire, and poachers, and an attorney, and 
154 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

a virtuous young man with a genius for mechanics, 
who should love, and protect, and ultimately marry 
the girl in the crimson room. Baudelaire has a few 
dainty sentences on the fancies that we are inspired 
with when we look through a window into other 
people's lives ; and I think Dickens has somewhere 
enlarged on the same text. The subject, at least, is 
one that I am seldom weary of entertaining. I 
remember, night after night, at Brussels, watching 
a good family sup together, make merry, and retire 
to rest ; and night after night I waited to see the 
candles lit, and the salad made, and the last saluta- 
tions dutifully exchanged, without any abatement of 
interest. Night after night I found the scene rivet 
my attention and keep me awake in bed with all 
manner of quaint imaginations. Much of the 
pleasure of the Arabian Nights hinges upon this 
Asmodean interest ; and we are not weary of lifting 
other people's roofs, and going about behind the 
scenes of life with the Caliph and the serviceable 
Giaffar. It is a salutary exercise, besides ; it is 
salutary to get out of ourselves and see people living 
together in perfect unconsciousness of our existence, 
as they will live when we are gone. If to-morrow 
the blow falls, and the worst of our ill fears is 
realised, the girl will none the less tell stories to the 
child on her lap in the cottage at Great Missenden, 
nor the good Belgians light their candle, and mix 
their salad, and go orderly to bed. 

The next morning was sunny overhead and damp 
underfoot, with a thrill in the air like a reminiscence 

155 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

of frost. I went up into the sloping garden behind 
the inn and smoked a pipe pleasantly enough, to the 
tune of my landlady's lamentations over sundry 
cabbages and cauliflowers that had been spoiled by 
caterpillars. She had been so much pleased in the 
summer-time, she said, to see the garden all hovered 
over by white butterflies. And now, look at the 
end of it ! She could nowise reconcile this with her 
moral sense. And, indeed, unless these butterflies 
are created with a side-look to the composition of 
improving apologues, it is not altogether easy, even 
for people who have read Hegel and Dr. M'Cosh, to 
decide intelligibly upon the issue raised. Then I 
fell into a long and abstruse calculation with my 
landlord ; having for object to compare the distance 
driven by him during eight years' service on the box 
of the Wendover coach with the girth of the 
round world itself. We tackled the question most 
conscientiously, made all necessary allowance for 
Sundays and leap-years, and were just coming to a 
triumphant conclusion of our labours when we were 
stayed by a small lacuna in my information. I did 
not know the circumference of the earth. The land- 
lord knew it, to be sure — plainly he had made the 
same calculation twice and once before, — but he 
wanted confidence in his own figures, and from the 
moment I showed myself so poor a second seemed 
to lose all interest in the result. 

Wendover (which was my next stage) lies in the 
same valley with Great Missenden, but at the foot 
of it, where the hills trend off on either hand like a 
156 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

coast-line, and a great hemisphere of plain lies, like 
a sea, before one. I went up a chalky road, until I 
had a good outlook over the place. The vale, as it 
opened out into the plain, was shallow, and a little 
bare, perhaps, but full of graceful convolutions. 
From the level to which I have now attained the 
fields were exposed before me like a map, and I 
could see all that bustle of autumn field-work 
which had been hid from me yesterday behind the 
hedgerows, or shown to me only for a moment as I 
followed the footpath. Wendover lay well down 
in the midst, with mountains of foliage about it. 
The great plain stretched away to the northward, 
variegated near at hand with the quaint pattern of 
the fields, but growing ever more and more in- 
distinct, until it became a mere hurly-burly of trees 
and bright crescents of river, and snatches of slanting 
road, and finally melted into the ambiguous cloud- 
land over the horizon. The sky was an opal-grey, 
touched here and there with blue, and with certain 
faint russets that looked as if they were reflections 
of the colour of the autumnal woods below. I could 
hear the ploughmen shouting to their horses, the 
uninterrupted carol of larks innumerable overhead, 
and, from a field where the shepherd was marshalling 
his flock, a sweet tumultuous tinkle of sheep-bells. 
All these noises came to me very thin and distinct 
in the clear air. There was a wonderful sentiment of 
distance and atmosphere about the day and the place. 
I mounted the hill yet farther by a rough stair- 
case of chalky footholds cut in the turf. The hills 

157 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

about Wendover and, as far as I could see, all the 
hills in Buckinghamshire, wear a sort of hood of 
beech plantation ; but in this particular case the 
hood had been suffered to extend itself into some- 
thing more like a cloak, and hung down about the 
shoulders of the hill in wide folds, instead of lying 
flatly along the summit. The trees grew so close, 
and their boughs were so matted together, that the 
whole wood looked as dense as a bush of heather. 
The prevailing colour was a dull, smouldering red, 
touched here and there with vivid yellow. But the 
autumn had scarce advanced beyond the outworks ; 
it was still almost summer in the heart of the wood ; 
and as soon as I had scrambled through the hedge, 
I found myself in a dim green forest atmosphere 
under eaves of virgin foliage. In places where the 
wood had itself for a background and the trees 
were massed together thickly, the colour became 
intensified and almost gem-like : a perfect fire of 
green, that seemed none the less green for a few 
specks of autumn gold. None of the trees were of 
any considerable age or stature ; but they grew well 
together, I have said ; and as the road turned and 
wound among them, they fell into pleasant group- 
ings and broke the light up pleasantly. Sometimes 
there would be a colonnade of slim, straight tree- 
stems with the light running down them as down 
the shafts of pillars, that looked as if it ought to 
lead to something, and led only to a corner of 
sombre and intricate jungle. Sometimes a spray 
of delicate foliage would be thrown out flat, the 
158 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

light lying flatly along the top of it, so that against 
a dark background it seemed almost luminous. 
There was a great hush over the thicket (for, indeed, 
it was more of a thicket than a wood) ; and the 
vague rumours that went among the tree-tops, and 
the occasional rustling of big birds or hares among 
the undergrowth, had in them a note of almost 
treacherous stealthiness, that put the imagination on 
its guard and made me walk warily on the russet 
carpeting of last year's leaves. The spirit of the place 
seemed to be all attention ; the wood listened as I 
went, and held its breath to number my footfalls. 
One could not help feeling that there ought to be 
some reason for this stillness : whether, as the 
bright old legend goes, Pan lay somewhere near in a 
siesta, or whether, perhaps, the heaven was meditat- 
ing rain, and the first drops would soon come 
pattering through the leaves. It was not unpleasant, 
in such an humour, to catch sight, ever and anon, of 
large spaces of the open plain. This happened only 
where the path lay much upon the slope, and there 
was a flaw in the solid leafy thatch of the wood at 
some distance below the level at which I chanced 
myself to be walking ; then, indeed, little scraps of 
foreshortened distance, miniature fields, and Lili- 
putian houses and hedgerow trees would appear for 
a moment in the aperture, and grow larger and 
smaller, and change and melt one into another, as I 
continued to go forward, and so shift my point of view. 
For ten minutes, perhaps, I had heard from some- 
where before me in the wood a strange, continuous 

159 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

noise, as of clucking, cooing, and gobbling, now and 
again interrupted by a harsh scream. As I advanced 
towards this noise, it began to grow lighter about 
me, and I caught sight, through the trees, of sundry 
gables and enclosure walls, and something like the 
tops of a rickyard. And sure enough, a rickyard it 
proved to be, and a neat little farm-steading, with 
the beech-woods growing almost to the door of it. 
Just before me, however, as I came up the path, the 
trees drew back and let in a wide flood of daylight 
on to a circular lawn. It was here that the noises 
had their origin. More than a score of peacocks 
(there are altogether thirty at the farm), a proper 
contingent of peahens, and a great multitude that I 
could not number of more ordinary barn-door fowls, 
were all feeding together on this little open lawn 
among the beeches. They fed in a dense crowd, 
which swayed to and fro, and came hither and 
thither as by a sort of tide, and of which the surface 
was agitated like the surface of a sea as each bird 
guzzled his head along the ground after the scattered 
corn. The clucking, cooing noise that had led me 
thither was formed by the blending together of 
countless expressions of individual contentment 
into one collective expression of contentment, or 
general grace during meat. Every now and again 
a big peacock would separate himself from the mob 
and take a stately turn or two about the lawn, or 
perhaps mount for a moment upon the rail, and 
there shrilly publish to the world his satisfaction 
with himself and what he had to eat. It happened, 
1 60 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

for my sins, that none of these admirable birds had 
anything beyond the merest rudiment of a tail. Tails, 
it seemed, were out of season just then. But they 
had their necks for all that; and by their necks 
alone they do as much surpass all the other birds 
of our grey climate as they fall in quality of song 
below the blackbird or the lark. Surely the peacock, 
with its incomparable parade of glorious colour and 
the scrannel voice of it issuing forth, as in mockery, 
from its painted throat, must, like my landlady's 
butterflies at Great Missenden, have been invented 
by some skilful fabulist for the consolation and 
support of homely virtue : or rather, perhaps, by a 
fabulist not quite so skilful, who made points for 
the moment without having a studious enough eye 
to the complete effect ; for I thought these melting 
greens and blues so beautiful that afternoon, that I 
would have given them my vote just then before the 
sweetest pipe in all the spring woods. For indeed 
there is no piece of colour of the same extent in 
nature, that will so flatter and satisfy the lust of a 
man's eyes ; and to come upon so many of them, 
after these acres of stone-coloured heavens and russet 
woods, and grey -brown ploughlands and white roads, 
was like going three whole days' journey to the 
southward, or a month back into the summer. 

I was sorry to leave Peacock Farm — for so the 
place is called, after the name of its splendid pen- 
sioners — and go forward again in the quiet woods. 
It began to grow both damp and dusk under the 
beeches; and as the day declined the colour faded 
21 — l 161 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

out of the foliage ; and shadow, without form and 
void, took the place of all the fine tracery of leaves 
and delicate gradations of living green that had 
before accompanied my walk. I had been sorry to 
leave Peacock Farm, but I was not sorry to find 
myself once more in the open road, under a pale 
and somewhat troubled-looking evening sky, and 
put my best foot foremost for the inn at Wendover. 
Wendover, in itself, is a straggling, purposeless 
sort of place. Everybody seems to have had his 
own opinion as to how the street should go; or 
rather, every now and then a man seems to have 
arisen with a new idea on the subject, and led away 
a little sect of neighbours to join in his heresy. It 
would have somewhat the look of an abortive 
watering-place, such as we may now see them here 
and there along the coast, but for the age of the 
houses, the comely quiet design of some of them, 
and the look of long habitation, of a life that is 
settled and rooted, and makes it worth while to 
train flowers about the windows, and otherwise 
shape the dwelling to the humour of the inhabitant. 
The church, which might perhaps have served as 
rallying-point for these loose houses, and pulled the 
township into something like intelligible unity, 
stands some distance off among great trees ; but 
the inn (to take the public buildings in order of 
importance) is in what I understand to be the prin- 
cipal street : a pleasant old house, with bay windows, 
and three peaked gables, and many swallows' nests 
plastered about the eaves. 
162 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

The interior of the inn was answerable to the 
outside : indeed, I never saw any room much more 
to be admired than the low wainscoted parlour in 
which I spent the remainder of the evening. It 
was a short oblong in shape, save that the fireplace 
was built across one of the angles so as to cut it 
partially off, and the opposite angle was similarly 
truncated by a corner cupboard. The wainscot was 
white, and there was a Turkey carpet on the floor, 
so old that it might have been imported by Walter 
Shandy before he retired, worn almost through in 
some places, but in others making a good show of 
blues and oranges, none the less harmonious for 
being somewhat faded. The corner cupboard was 
agreeable in design ; and there were just the right 
things upon the shelves — decanters and tumblers, 
and blue plates, and one red rose in a glass of water. 
The furniture was old-fashioned and stiff. Every- 
thing was in keeping, down to the ponderous leaden 
inkstand on the round table. And you may fancy 
how pleasant it looked, all flushed and flickered over 
by the light of a brJsk companionable fire, and seen, 
in a strange, tilted sort of perspective, in the three 
compartments of the old mirror above the chimney. 
As I sat reading in the great arm-chair, I kept look- 
ing round with the tail of my eye at the quaint, 
bright picture that was about me, and could not 
help some pleasure and a certain childish pride in 
forming part of it. The book I read was about 
Italy in the early Renaissance, the pageantries and the 
light loves of princes, the passion of men for learning, 

163 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

and poetry, and art ; but it was written, by good luck, 
after a solid, prosaic fashion, that suited the room in- 
finitely more nearly than the matter ; and the result 
was that I thought less, perhaps, of Lippo Lippi, or 
Lorenzo, or Politian, than of the good Englishman 
who had written in that volume what he knew of 
them, and taken so much pleasure in his solemn 
polysyllables. 

I was not left without society. My landlord had 
a very pretty little daughter, whom we shall call 
Lizzie. If I had made any notes at the time, I 
might be able to tell you something definite of her 
appearance. But faces have a trick of growing more 
and more spiritualised and abstract in the memory, 
until nothing remains of them but a look, a haunt- 
ing expression ; just that secret quality in a face that 
is apt to slip out somehow under the cunningest 
painter's touch, and leave the portrait dead for the 
lack of it. And if it is hard to catch with the finest 
of camel's hair pencils, you may think how hopeless 
it must be to pursue after it with clumsy words. If 
I say, for instance, that this look, which I remember 
as Lizzie, was something wistful that seemed partly 
to come of slyness and in part of simplicity, and 
that I am inclined to imagine it had something to 
do with the daintiest suspicion of a cast in one of her 
large eyes, I shall have said all that I can, and the 
reader will not be much advanced towards compre- 
hension. I had struck up an acquaintance with this 
little damsel in the morning, and professed much 
interest in her dolls, and an impatient desire to see 
164 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

the large one which was kept locked away for great 
occasions. And so I had not been very long in the 
parlour before the door opened, and in came Miss 
Lizzie with two dolls tucked clumsily under her arm. 
She was followed by her brother John, a year or so 
younger than herself, not simply to play propriety 
at our interview, but to show his own two whips in 
emulation of his sister's dolls. I did my best to 
make myself agreeable to my visitors, showing much 
admiration for the dolls and dolls' dresses, and, with 
a very serious demeanour, asking many questions 
about their age and character. I do not think that 
Lizzie distrusted my sincerity, but it was evident 
that she was both bewildered and a little contemp- 
tuous. Although she was ready herself to treat her 
dolls as if they were alive, she seemed to think rather 
poorly of any grown person who could fall heartily 
into the spirit of the fiction. Sometimes she would 
look at me with gravity and a sort of disquietude, 
as though she really feared I must be out of my 
wits. Sometimes, as when I inquired too particularly 
into the question of their names, she laughed at 
me so long and heartily that I began to feel almost 
embarrassed. But when, in an evil moment, I asked 
to be allowed to kiss one of them, she could keep 
herself no longer to herself. Clambering down from 
the chair on which she sat perched to show me, 
Cornelia-like, her jewels, she ran straight out of 
the room and into the bar — it was just across the 
passage, — and I could hear her telling her mother 
in loud tones, but apparently more in sorrow than 

165 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

in merriment, that the gentleman in the parlour 
wanted to kiss Dolly. I fancy she was determined to 
save me from this humiliating action, even in spite of 
myself, for she never gave me the desired permission. 
She reminded me of an old dog I once knew, who 
would never suffer the master of the house to dance, 
out of an exaggerated sense of the dignity of that 
master's place and carriage. 

After the young people were gone there was but 
one more incident ere I went to bed. I heard a 
party of children go up and down the dark street 
for a while, singing together sweetly. And the 
mystery of this little incident was so pleasant to 
me that I purposely refrained from asking who they 
were, and wherefore they went singing at so late an 
hour. One can rarely be in a pleasant place without 
meeting with some pleasant accident. I have a con- 
viction that these children would not have gone 
singing before the inn unless the inn-parlour had 
been the delightful place it was. At least, if I 
had been in the customary public room of the 
modern hotel, with all its disproportions and dis- 
comforts, my ears would have been dull, and there 
would have been some ugly temper or other upper- 
most in my spirit, and so they would have wasted 
their songs upon an unworthy hearer. 

Next morning I went along to visit the church. 
It is a long-backed red-and-white building, very 
much restored, and stands in a pleasant graveyard 
among those great trees of which I have spoken 
already. The sky was drowned in a mist. Now 
166 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

and again pulses of cold wind went about the en- 
closure, and set the branches busy overhead, and the 
dead leaves scurrying into the angles of the church 
buttresses. Now and again, also, I could hear the 
dull sudden fall of a chestnut among the grass — 
the dog would bark before the rectory door — or there 
would come a clinking of pails from the stable-yard 
behind. But in spite of these occasional interruptions 
— in spite, also, of the continuous autumn twittering 
that filled the trees — the chief impression somehow 
was one as of utter silence, insomuch that the little 
greenish bell that peeped out of a window in the 
tower disquieted me with a sense of some possible 
and more inharmonious disturbance. The grass was 
wet, as if with a hoar-frost that had just been melted. 
I do not know that ever I saw a morning more 
autumnal. As I went to and fro among the graves, 
I saw some flowers set reverently before a recently 
erected tomb, and drawing near was almost startled 
to find they lay on the grave of a man seventy-two 
years old when he died. We are accustomed to 
strew flowers only over the young, where love has 
been cut short untimely, and great possibilities have 
been restrained by death. We strew them there in 
token that these possibilities, in some deeper sense, 
shall yet be realised, and the touch of our dead loves 
remain with us and guide us to the end. And yet 
there was more significance, perhaps, and perhaps a 
greater consolation, in this little nosegay on the grave 
of one who had died old. We are apt to make 
so much of the tragedy of death, and think so little 

167 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

of the enduring tragedy of some men's lives, that we 
see more to lament for in a life cut off in the midst 
of usefulness and love, than in one that miserably 
survives all love and usefulness, and goes about the 
world the phantom of itself, without hope, or joy, 
or any consolation. These flowers seemed not so 
much the token of love that survived death, as of 
something yet more beautiful — of love that had 
lived a man's life out to an end with him, and been 
faithful and companionable, and not weary of loving, 
throughout all these years. 

The morning cleared a little, and the sky was once 
more the old stone-coloured vault over the sallow 
meadows and the russet woods, as I set forth on a 
dog-cart from Wendover to Tring. The road lay 
for a good distance along the side of the hills, with 
the great plain below on one hand, and the beech- 
woods above on the other. The fields were busy 
with people ploughing and sowing ; every here and 
there a jug of ale stood in the angle of the hedge, 
and I could see many a team wait smoking in the 
furrow as ploughman or sower stepped aside for a 
moment to take a draught. Over all the brown 
ploughlands, and under all the leafless hedgerows, 
there was a stout piece of labour abroad, and, as it 
were, a spirit of picnic. The horses smoked and 
the men laboured and shouted and drank in the 
sharp autumn morning; so that one had a strong 
effect of large, open-air existence. The fellow who 
drove me was something of a humourist ; and his 
conversation was all in praise of an agricultural 
1 68 



AN AUTUMN EFFECT 

labourer's way of life. It was he who called my 
attention to these jugs of ale by the hedgerow ; he 
could not sufficiently express the liberality of these 
men's wages ; he told me how sharp an appetite was 
given by breaking up the earth in the morning air, 
whether with plough or spade, and cordially admired 
this provision of nature. He sang Ofortunatos agri- 
colas ! indeed, in every possible key, and with many 
cunning inflections, till I began to wonder what was 
the use of such people as Mr. Arch, and to sing the 
same air myself in a more diffident manner. 

Tring was reached, and then Tring railway 
station ; for the two are not very near, the good 
people of Tring having held the railway, of old 
days, in extreme apprehension, lest some day it 
should break loose in the town and work mischief. 
I had a last walk, among russet beeches as usual, 
and the air filled, as usual, with the carolling of 
larks ; I heard shots fired in the distance, and saw, 
as a new sign of the fulfilled autumn, two horse- 
men exercising a pack of foxhounds. And then 
the train came and carried me back to London. 



VII 

A WINTER'S WALK IN CARRICK AND 
GALLOWAY 

(A Fragment : 1876) 

At the famous bridge of Doon, Kyle, the central 
district of the shire of Ayr, marches with Carrick, 

169 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

the most southerly. On the Carrick side of the 
river rises a hill of somewhat gentle conformation, 
cleft with shallow dells, and sown here and there 
with farms and tufts of wood. Inland, it loses itself, 
joining, I suppose, the great herd of similar hills that 
occupies the centre of the Lowlands. Towards the 
sea, it swells out the coast-line into a protuberance, 
like a bay window in a plan, and is fortified against 
the surf behind bold crags. This hill is known as 
the Brown Hill of Carrick, or, more shortly, Brown 
Carrick. 

It had snowed overnight. The fields were all 
sheeted up ; they were tucked in among the snow, 
and their shape was modelled through the pliant 
counterpane, like children tucked in by a fond 
mother. The wind had made ripples and folds upon 
the surface, like what the sea, in quiet weather, 
leaves upon the sand. There was a frosty stifle in 
the air. An effusion of coppery light on the summit 
of Brown Carrick showed where the sun was trying 
to look through ; but along the horizon clouds of 
cold fog had settled down, so that there was no 
distinction of sky and sea. Over the white shoulders 
of the headlands, or in the opening of bays, there 
was nothing but a great vacancy and blackness ; and 
the road as it drew near the edge of the cliff seemed 
to skirt the shores of creation and void space. 

The snow crunched underfoot, and at farms all 

the dogs broke out barking as they smelt a passer-by 

upon the road. I met a fine old fellow, who might 

have sat as the father in 'The Cottar's Saturday 

170 



CARRICK AND GALLOWAY 

Night,' and who swore most heathenishly at a cow 
he was driving. And a little after I scraped ac- 
quaintance with a poor body tramping out to gather 
cockles. His face was wrinkled by exposure ; it 
was broken up into flakes and channels, like mud 
beginning to dry, and weathered in two colours, an 
incongruous pink and grey. He had a faint air of 
being surprised — which, God knows, he might well 
be — that life had gone so ill with him. The shape 
of his trousers was in itself a jest, so strangely were 
they bagged and ravelled about his knees ; and his 
coat was all bedaubed with clay as though he had 
lain in a rain-dub during the New Year's festivity. 
I will own I was not sorry to think he had had a 
merry New Year, and been young again for an 
evening ; but I was sorry to see the mark still there. 
One could not expect such an old gentleman to be 
much of a dandy, or a great student of respectability 
in dress ; but there might have been a wife at home, 
who had brushed out similar stains after fifty New 
Years, now become old, or a round-armed daughter, 
who would wish to have him neat, were it only out 
of self-respect and for the ploughman sweetheart 
when he looks round at night. Plainly, there was 
nothing of this in his life, and years and loneliness 
hung heavily on his old arms. He was seventy-six, 
he told me ; and nobody would give a day's work to 
a man that age : they would think he couldn't do it. 
'"' And, 'deed,' he went on, with a sad little chuckle, 
' 'deed, I doubt if I could.' He said good-bye to me 
at a foot-path, and crippled wearily off to his work. 

171 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

It will make your heart ache if you think of his old 
fingers groping in the snow. 

He told me I was to turn down beside the school- 
house for Dunure. And so, when I found a lone 
house among the snow, and heard a babble of child- 
ish voices from within, I struck off into a steep road 
leading downwards to the sea. Dunure lies close 
under the steep hill : a haven among the rocks, a 
breakwater in consummate disrepair, much apparatus 
for drying nets, and a score or so of fishers' houses. 
Hard by, a few shards of ruined castle overhang the 
sea, a few vaults, and one tall gable honeycombed 
with windows. The snow lay on the beach to the 
tide-mark. It was daubed on to the sills of 
the ruin ; it roosted in the crannies of the rock like 
white sea-birds ; even on outlying reefs there would 
be a little cock of snow, like a toy lighthouse. 
Everything was grey and white in a cold and dolorous 
sort of shepherd's plaid. In the profound silence, 
broken only by the noise of oars at sea, a horn was 
sounded twice ; and I saw the postman, girt with 
two bags, pause a moment at the end of the clachan 
for letters. It is, perhaps, characteristic of Dunure 
that none were brought him. 

The people at the public-house did not seem well 
pleased to see me, and though I would fain have 
stayed by the kitchen fire, sent me * ben the hoose ' 
into the guest-room. This guest-room at Dunure 
was painted in quite aesthetic fashion. There are 
rooms in the same taste not a hundred miles from 
London, where persons of an extreme sensibility 
172 



CARRICK AND GALLOWAY 

meet together without embarrassment. It was all 
in a fine dull bottle-green and black ; a grave har- 
monious piece of colouring, with nothing, so far as 
coarser folk can judge, to hurt the better feelings 
of the most exquisite purist. A cherry-red half 
window-blind kept up an imaginary warmth in the 
cold room, and threw quite a glow on the floor. 
Twelve cockle-shells and a halfpenny china figure 
were ranged solemnly along the mantel-shelf. Even 
the spittoon was an original note, arid instead of 
sawdust contained sea-shells. And as for the 
hearth-rug, it would merit an article to itself, and 
a coloured diagram to help the text. It was patch- 
work, but the patchwork of the poor : no glowing 
shreds of old brocade and Chinese silk, shaken 
together in the kaleidoscope of some tasteful house- 
wife's fancy ; but a work of art in its own way, and 
plainly a labour of love. The patches came exclu- 
sively from people's raiment. There was no colour 
more brilliant than a heather mixture ; ' My Johnnie's 
grey breeks,' well polished over the oar on the boat's 
thwart, entered largely into its composition. And 
the spoils of an old black cloth coat, that had been 
many a Sunday to church, added something (save the 
mark !) of preciousness to the material. 

While I was at luncheon four carters came in — 
long-limbed, muscular Ayrshire Scots, with lean, 
intelligent faces. Four quarts of stout were ordered ; 
they kept filling the tumbler with the other hand as 
they drank; and in less time than it takes me to 
write these words the four quarts were finished — 

*73 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

another round was proposed, discussed, and negatived 
— and they were creaking out of the village with 
their carts. 

The ruins drew you towards them. You never 
saw any place more desolate from a distance, nor one 
that less belied its promise near at hand. Some 
crows and gulls flew away croaking as I scrambled 
in. The snow had drifted into the vaults. The 
clachan dabbled with snow, the white hills, the black 
sky, the sea marked in the coves with faint circular 
wrinkles, the whole world, as it looked from a loop- 
hole in Dunure, was cold, wretched, and out-at- 
elbows. If you had been a wicked baron and com- 
pelled to stay there all the afternoon, you would 
have had a rare fit of remorse. How you would 
have heaped up the fire and gnawed your fingers ! 
I think it would have come to homicide before the 
evening — if it were only for the pleasure of seeing 
something red ! And the masters of Dunure, it is 
to be noticed, were remarkable of old for inhumanity. 
One of these vaults where the snow had drifted was 
that ' black voute ' where ' Mr. Alane Stewart, Com- 
mendatour of Crossraguel,' endured his fiery trials. 
On the first and seventh of September 1570 (ill dates 
for Mr. Alan !), Gilbert, Earl of Cassilis, his chaplain, 
his baker, his cook, his pantryman, and another 
servant, bound the poor Commendator 'betwix an 
iron chimlay and a fire,' and there cruelly roasted him 
until he signed away his abbacy. It is one of the 
ugliest stories of an ugly period, but not, somehow, 
without such a flavour of the ridiculous as makes it 

174 



CARRICK AND GALLOWAY 

hard to sympathise quite seriously with the victim. 
And it is consoling to remember that he got away 
at last, and kept his abbacy, and, over and above, 
had a pension from the Earl until he died. 

Some way beyond Dunure a wide bay, of some- 
what less unkindly aspect, opened out. Colzean 
plantations lay all along the steep shore, and there 
was a wooded hill towards the centre, where the 
trees made a sort of shadowy etching over the snow. 
The road went down and up, and past a blacksmith's 
cottage that made fine music in the valley. Three 
compatriots of Burns drove up to me in a cart. 
They were all drunk, and asked me jeeringly if this 
was the way to Dunure. I told them it was ; and 
my answer was received with unfeigned merriment. 
One gentleman was so much tickled he nearly fell 
out of the cart; indeed, he was only saved by a 
companion, who either had not so fine a sense of 
humour or had drunken less. 

* The toune of Mayboll,' says the inimitable Aber- 
crummie, 1 'stands upon an ascending ground from 
east to west, and lyes open to the south. It hath 
one principall street, with houses upon both sides, 
built of freestone ; and it is beautifyed with the 
situation of two castles, one at each end of this 
street. That on the east belongs to the Erie of 
Cassilis. On the west end is a castle, which belonged 
sometime to the laird of Blairquan, which is now the 
tolbuith, and is adorned with a pyremide [conical 

1 William Abercrombie. See Fasti Ecclesice Scoticance, under 'May- 
bole ' (Part in. ). 

175 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

roof], and a row of ballesters round it raised from 
the top of the staircase, into which they have mounted 
a fyne clock. There be four lanes which pass from 
the principall street ; one is called the Back Vennel, 
which is steep, declining to the south-west, and leads 
to a lower street, which is far larger than the high 
chiefe street, and it runs from the Kirkland to the 
Well Trees, in which there have been many pretty 
buildings, belonging to the severall gentry of the 
countrey, who were wont to resort thither in winter, 
and divert themselves in converse together at their 
owne houses. It was once the principall street of 
the town ; but many of these houses of the gentry 
having been decayed and ruined, it has lost much 
of its ancient beautie. Just opposite to this vennel, 
there is another that leads north-west, from the 
chiefe street to the green, which is a pleasant plott 
of ground, enclosed round with an earthen wall, 
wherein they were wont to play football, but now at 
the Gowff and byasse-bowls. The houses of this 
towne, on both sides of the street, have their several 
gardens belonging to them ; and in the lower street 
there be some pretty orchards, that yield store of 
good fruit.' As Patterson says, this description is 
near enough even to-day, and is mighty nicely 
written to boot. I am bound to add, of my own 
experience, that Maybole is tumble-down and dreary. 
Prosperous enough in reality, it has an air of decay ; 
and though the population has increased, a roofless 
house every here and there seems to protest the 
contrary. The women are more than well-favoured, 
176 



CARRICK AND GALLOWAY 

and the men fine tall fellows ; but they look slipshod 
and dissipated. As they slouched at street corners, 
or stood about gossiping in the snow, it seemed they 
would have been more at home in the slums of 
a large city than here in a country place betwixt 
a village and a town. I heard a great deal about 
drinking, and a great deal about religious revivals : 
two things in which the Scottish character is em- 
phatic and most unlovely. In particular, I heard of 
clergymen who were employing their time in explain- 
ing to a delighted audience the physics of the Second 
Coming. It is not very likely any of us will be 
asked to help. If we were, it is likely we should 
receive instructions for the occasion, and that on 
more reliable authority. And so I can only figure 
to myself a congregation truly curious in such flights 
of theological fancy, as one of veteran and accom- 
plished saints, who have fought the good fight to an 
end and outlived all worldly passion, and are to be 
regarded rather as a part of the Church Triumphant 
than the poor, imperfect company on earth. And 
yet I saw some young fellows about the smoking- 
room who seemed, in the eyes of one who cannot 
count himself strait-laced, in need of some more 
practical sort of teaching. They seemed only eager 
to get drunk, and to do so speedily. It was not 
much more than a week after the New Year ; and 
to hear them return on their past bouts with a gusto 
unspeakable was not altogether pleasing. Here is 
one snatch of talk, for the accuracy of which I can 
vouch — 

21— M 177 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

' Ye had a spree here last Tuesday ? ' 

' We had that ! ' 

' I wasna able to be oot o' my bed. Man, I was 
awful bad on Wednesday.' 

' Ay, ye were gey bad. ' 

And you should have seen the bright eyes, and 
heard the sensual accents ! They recalled their 
doings with devout gusto and a sort of rational 
pride. Schoolboys, after their first drunkenness, are 
not more boastful; a cock does not plume himself 
with a more un mingled satisfaction as he paces 
forth among his harem ; and yet these were grown 
men, and by no means short of wit. It was hard 
to suppose they were very eager about the Second 
Coming : it seemed as if some elementary notions 
of temperance for the men and seemliness for the 
women would have gone nearer the mark. And yet, 
as it seemed to me typical of much that is evil in 
Scotland, Maybole is also typical of much that is 
best. Some of the factories, which have taken the 
place of weaving in the town's economy, were origi- 
nally founded and are still possessed by self-made 
men of the sterling, stout old breed — fellows who 
made some little bit of an invention, borrowed some 
little pocketful of capital, and then, step by step, in 
courage, thrift, and industry, fought their way up- 
ward to an assured position. 

Abercrummie has told you enough of the Tol- 

booth ; but, as a bit of spelling, this inscription on 

the Tolbooth bell seems too delicious to withhold : 

* This bell is founded at Maiboll Bi Danel Geli, a 

178 



CAHRICK AND GALLOWAY 

Frenchman, the 6th November 1696, Bi appointment 
of the heritors of the parish of Maiyboll.' The 
Castle deserves more notice. It is a large and 
shapely tower, plain from the ground upward, but 
with a zone of ornamentation running about the top. 
In a general way this adornment is perched on the 
very summit of the chimney-stacks ; but there is one 
corner more elaborate than the rest. A very heavy 
string-course runs round the upper story, and just t 
above this, facing up the street, the tower carries a 
small oriel window, fluted and corbelled and carved 
about with stone heads. It is so ornate it has some- 
what the air of a shrine. And it was, indeed, the 
casket of a very precious jewel, for in the room to 
which it gives light lay, for long years, the heroine 
of the sweet old ballad of ' Johnnie Faa ' — she who, 
at the call of the gipsies' songs, * came tripping down 
the stair, and all her maids before her.' Some people 
say the ballad has no basis in fact, and have written, 
I believe, unanswerable papers to the proof. But in 
the face of all that, the very look of that high oriel 
window convinces the imagination, and we enter 
into all the sorrows of the imprisoned dame. We 
conceive the burthen of the long, lack-lustre days, 
when she leaned her sick head against the mullions, 
and saw the burghers loafing in Maybole High 
Street, and the children at play, and ruffling gallants 
riding by from hunt or foray. We conceive the 
passion of odd moments, when the wind threw up to 
her some snatch of song, and her heart grew hot 
within her, and her eyes overflowed at the memory 

179 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

of the past. And even if the tale be not true of this 
or that lady, or this or that old tower, it is true in 
the essence of all men and women : for all of us, 
some time or other, hear the gipsies singing; over 
all of us is the glamour cast. Some resist and sit 
resolutely by the fire. Most go and are brought 
back again, like Lady Cassilis. A few, of the tribe 
of Waring, go and are seen no more ; only now and 
„again, at spring-time, when the gipsies' song is afloat 
in the amethyst evening, we can catch their voices 
in the glee. 

By night it was clearer, and Maybole more visible 
than during the day. Clouds coursed over the sky 
in great masses ; the full moon battled the other 
way, and lit up the snow with gleams of flying silver ; 
the town came down the hill in a cascade of brown 
gables, bestridden by smooth white roofs, and 
spangled here and there with lighted windows. At 
either end the snow stood high up in the darkness, 
on the peak of the Tolbooth and among the chimneys 
of the Castle. As the moon flashed a bull's-eye 
glitter across the town between the racing clouds, 
the white roofs leaped into relief over the gables and 
the chimney-stacks, and their shadows over the 
white roofs. In the town itself the lit face of 
the clock peered down the street; an hour was 
hammered out on Mr. Geli's bell, and from behind 
the red curtains of a public-house some one trolled 
out — a compatriot of Burns, again ! — ' The saut tear 
blin's my e'e.' 

Next morning there were sun and a flapping wind. 
1 80 



CARRICK AND GALLOWAY 

From the street- corners of Maybole I could catch 
breezy glimpses of green fields. The road underfoot 
was wet and heavy — part ice, part snow, part water ; 
and any one I met greeted me, by way of salutation, 
with * A fine thowe ' (thaw). My way lay among 
rather bleak hills, and past bleak ponds and dilapi- 
dated castles and monasteries, to the Highland-looking 
village of Kirkoswald. It has little claim to notice, 
save that Burns came there to study surveying in 
the summer of 1777, and there also, in the kirkyard, 
the original of Tarn o' Shanter sleeps his last sleep. 
It is worth noticing, however, that this was the first 
place I thought ' Highland-looking.' Over the hill 
from Kirkoswald a farm-road leads to the coast. As 
I came down above Turnberry, the sea view was 
indeed strangely different from the day before. The 
cold fogs were all blown away ; and there was Ailsa 
Craig, like a refraction, magnified and deformed, of 
the Bass Rock ; and there were the chiselled mountain 
tops of Arran, veined and tipped with snow ; and 
behind, and fainter, the low, blue land of Cantyre. 
Cottony clouds stood, in a great castle, over the top 
of Arran, and blew out in long streamers to the 
south. The sea was bitten all over with white ; 
little ships, tacking up and down the Firth, lay over 
at different angles in the wind. On Shanter they 
were ploughing lea ; a cart foal, all in a field by him- 
self, capered and whinnied as if the spring were in 
him. 

The road from Turnberry to Girvan lies along 
the shore, among sandhills and by wildernesses of 

181 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

tumbled bent. Every here and there a few cottages 
stood together beside a bridge. They had one odd 
feature, not easy to describe in words : a triangular 
porch projected from above the door, supported at 
the apex by a single upright post ; a secondary door 
was hinged to the post, and could be hasped on either 
cheek of the real entrance ; so, whether the wind 
was north or south, the cotter could make himself a 
triangular bight of shelter where to set his chair and 
finish a pipe with comfort. There is one objection 
to this device : for, as the post stands in the middle 
of the fairway, any one precipitately issuing from the 
cottage must run his chance of a broken head. So 
far as I am aware, it is peculiar to the little corner 
of country about Girvan. And that corner is notice- 
able for more reasons : it is certainly one of the most 
characteristic districts in Scotland. It has this 
moveable porch by way of architecture ; it has, as 
we shall see, a sort of remnant of provincial cos- 
tume, and it has the handsomest population in the 
Lowlands. . . . 



182 



FOREST NOTES 

VIII 

FOREST NOTES 

(1875-6) 

ON THE PLAIN 

Perhaps the reader knows already the aspect of the 
great levels of the Gatinais, where they border with 
the wooded hills of Fontainebleau. Here and there 
a few grey rocks creep out of the forest as if to sun 
themselves. Here and there a few apple-trees stand 
together on a knoll. The quaint, undignified tartan 
of a myriad small fields dies out into the distance ; 
the strips blend and disappear ; and the dead flat 
lies forth open and empty, with no accident save 
perhaps a thin line of trees or faint church-spire 
against the sky. Solemn and vast at all times, in 
spite of pettiness in the near details, the impression 
becomes more solemn and vast towards evening. 
The sun goes down, a swollen orange, as it were 
into the sea. A blue-clad peasant rides home, with 
a harrow smoking behind him among the dry clods. 
Another still works with his wife in their little strip. 
An immense shadow fills the plain ; these people 
stand in it up to their shoulders ; and their heads, 
as they stoop over their work and rise again, are 
relieved from time to time against the golden sky. 

These peasant farmers are well off now-a-days, 
and not by any means overworked ; but somehow 
you always see in them the historical representative 
of the serf of yore, and think not so much of present 

183 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

times, which may be prosperous enough, as of the 
old days when the peasant was taxed beyond pos- 
sibility of payment, and lived, in Michelet's image, 
like a hare between two furrows. These very people 
now weeding their patch under the broad sunset, 
that very man and his wife, it seems to us, have 
suffered all the wrongs of France. It is they who 
have been their country's scape-goat for long ages ; 
they who, generation after generation, have sowed 
and not reaped, reaped and another has garnered; 
and who have now entered into their reward, and 
enjoy their good things in their turn. For the days 
are gone by when the Seigneur ruled and profited. 
*Le Seigneur,' says the old formula, 'enferme ses 
manants comme sous porte et gonds, du ciel a la terre. 
Tout est a lui, foret chenue, oiseau dans Fair, poisson 
dans l'eau, bete au buisson, Fonde qui coule, la cloche 
dont le son au loin roule.' Such was his old state 
of sovereignty, a local god rather than a mere king. 
And now you may ask yourself where he is, and 
look round for vestiges of my late lord, and in all 
the country-side there is no trace of him but his 
forlorn and fallen mansion. At the end of a long 
avenue, now sown with grain, in the midst of a 
close full of cypresses and lilacs, ducks and crowing 
chanticleers and droning bees, the old chateau lifts 
its red chimneys and peaked roofs and turning vanes 
into the wind and sun. There is a glad spring 
bustle in the air, perhaps, and the lilacs are all in 
flower, and the creepers green about the broken 
balustrade ; but no spring shall revive the honour of 
184 



FOREST NOTES 

the place. Old women of the people, little children 
of the people, saunter and gambol in the walled 
court or feed the ducks in the neglected moat. 
Plough-horses, mighty of limb, browse in the long 
stables. The dial-hand on the clock waits for some 
better hour. Out on the plain, where hot sweat 
trickles into men's eyes, and the spade goes in deep 
and comes up slowly, perhaps the peasant may feel 
a movement of joy at his heart when he thinks that 
these spacious chimneys are now cold, which have 
so often blazed and flickered upon gay folk at 
supper, while he and his hollow-eyed children 
watched through the night with empty bellies and 
cold feet. And perhaps, as he raises his head and 
sees the forest lying like a coast-line of low hills 
along the sea-like level of the plain, perhaps forest 
and chateau hold no unsimilar place in his affections. 
If the chateau was my lord's the forest was my 
lord the king's ; neither of them for this poor 
Jacques. If he thought to eke out his meagre way 
of life by some petty theft of wood for the fire, or 
for a new roof-tree, he found himself face to face 
with a whole department, from the Grand Master 
of the Woods and Waters, who was a high-born 
lord, down to the common sergeant, who was a 
peasant like himself, and wore stripes or a bandolier 
by way of uniform. For the first offence, by the 
Salic law, there was a fine of fifteen sols ; and should 
a man be taken more than once in fault, or circum- 
stances aggravate the colour of his guilt, he might 
be whipped, branded, or hanged. There was a 

185 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

hangman over at Melun, and, I doubt not, a fine 
tall gibbet hard by the town gate, where Jacques 
might see his fellows dangle against the sky as he 
went to market. 

And then, if he lived near to a cover, there would 
be the more hares and rabbits to eat out his harvest, 
and the more hunters to trample it down. My 
lord has a new horn from England. He has laid 
out seven francs in decorating it with silver and 
gold, and fitting it with a silken leash to hang about 
his shoulder. The hounds have been on a pilgrimage 
to the shrine of Saint Mesmer, or Saint Hubert in 
the Ardennes, or some other holy intercessor who 
has made a specialty of the health of hunting dogs. 
In the grey dawn the game was turned and the 
branch broken by our best piqueur. A rare day's 
hunting lies before us. Wind a jolly flourish, sound 
the bien-aller with all your lungs. Jacques must 
stand by, hat in hand, while the quarry and hound 
and huntsman sweep across his field, and a year's 
sparing and labouring is as though it had not been. 
If he can see the ruin with a good enough grace, 
who knows but he may fall in favour with my lord ; 
who knows but his son may become the last and 
least among the servants at his lordship's kennel — 
one of the two poor varlets who get no wages and 
sleep at night among the hounds ? l 

For all that, the forest has been of use to Jacques, 

1 ' Deux poures varlez qui n'ont nulz gages et qui gissoient la nuit avec 
les chiens.' See Champollion-Figeac's Louis et Charles d'OrUans, i. 63., 
and for my lord's English horn, ibid. 96. 

186 



FOREST NOTES 

not only warming him with fallen wood, but giving 
him shelter in days of sore trouble, when my lord 
of the chateau, with all his troopers and trumpets, 
had been beaten from field after field into some 
ultimate fastness, or lay over-seas in an English 
prison. In these dark days, when the watch on the 
church steeple saw the smoke of burning villages 
on the sky-line, or a clump of spears and fluttering 
pennon drawing nigh across the plain, these good 
folk gat them up, with all their household gods, into 
the wood, whence, from some high spur, their timid 
scouts might overlook the coming and going of the 
marauders, and see the harvest ridden down, and 
church and cottage go up to heaven all night in 
flame. It was but an unhomely refuge that the 
woods afforded, where they must abide all change 
of weather and keep house with wolves and vipers. 
Often there was none left alive, when they returned, 
to show the old divisions of field from field. And 
yet, as times went, when the wolves entered at 
night into depopulated Paris, and perhaps De Retz 
was passing by with a company of demons like 
himself, even in these caves and thickets there were 
glad hearts and grateful prayers. 

Once or twice, as I say, in the course of the ages, 
the forest may have served the peasant well, but at 
heart it is a royal forest, and noble by old associa- 
tion. These woods have rung to the horns of all 
the kings of France, from Philip Augustus down- 
wards. They have seen Saint Louis exercise the 
dogs he brought with him from Egypt ; Francis i. 

187 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

go a-hunting with ten thousand horses in his train ; 
and Peter of Russia following his first stag. And 
so they are still haunted for the imagination by- 
royal hunts and progresses, and peopled with the 
faces of memorable men of yore. And this dis- 
tinction is not only in virtue of the pastime of dead 
monarchs. Great events, great revolutions, great 
cycles in the affairs of men, have here left their note, 
here taken shape in some significant and dramatic 
situation. It was hence that Guise and his leaguers 
led Charles the Ninth a prisoner to Paris. Here, 
booted and spurred, and with all his dogs about 
him, Napoleon met the Pope beside a woodland 
cross. Here, on his way to Elba not so long after, 
he kissed the eagle of the Old Guard, and spoke 
words of passionate farewell to his soldiers. And 
here, after Waterloo, rather than yield its ensign 
to the new power, one of his faithful regiments 
burned that memorial of so much toil and glory on 
the Grand Master's table, and drank its dust in 
brandy, as a devout priest consumes the remnants 
of the Host. 

IN THE SEASON 

Close into the edge of the forest, so close that the 
trees of the bornage stand pleasantly about the last 
houses, sits a certain small and very quiet village. 
There is but one street, and that, not long ago, was 
a green lane, where the cattle browsed between the 
doorsteps. As you go up this street, drawing ever 
nearer the beginning of the wood, you will arrive 
188 



FOREST NOTES 

at last before an inn where artists lodge. To the 
door (for I imagine it to be six o'clock on some fine 
summer's even), half a dozen, or maybe half a score, 
of people have brought out chairs, and now sit 
sunning themselves, and waiting the omnibus from 
Melun. If you go on into the court you will find 
as many more, some in the billiard-room over 
absinthe and a match of corks, some without over 
a last cigar and a vermouth. The doves coo and 
flutter from the dovecot ; Hortense is drawing water 
from the well ; and as all the rooms open into the 
court, you can see the white-capped cook over 
the furnace in the kitchen, and some idle painter, 
who has stored his canvases and washed his brushes, 
jangling a waltz on the crazy, tongue-tied piano in 
the salle-a-manger. ' Edmond, encore un vermouth,' 
cries a man in velveteen, adding in a tone of 
apologetic afterthought, ( un double, s'il vous plait' 
' Where are you working ? ' asks one in pure white 
linen from top to toe. 'At the Carrefour de 
1'Epine,' returns the other in corduroy (they are all 
gaitered, by the way). ' I couldn't do a thing to it. 
I ran out of white. Where were you ? ' 'I wasn't 
working, I was looking for motives.' Here is an 
outbreak of jubilation, and a lot of men clustering 
together about some new-comer with outstretched 
hands ; perhaps the ' correspondence ' has come in 
and brought So-and-so from Paris, or perhaps it is 
only So-and-so who has walked over from Chailly 
to dinner. 

* A table, Messieurs f ' cries M. Siron, bearing 

189 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

through the court the first tureen of soup. And 
immediately the company begins to settle down 
about the long tables in the dining-room, framed all 
round with sketches of all degrees of merit and 
demerit. There 's the big picture of the huntsman 
winding a horn with a dead boar between his legs, 
and his legs — well, his legs in stockings. And here 
is the little picture of a raw mutton-chop, in which 
Such-a-one knocked a hole last summer with no 
worse a missile than a plum from the dessert. And 
under all these works of art so much eating goes 
forward, so much drinking, so much jabbering in 
French and English, that it would do your heart 
good merely to peep and listen at the door. One 
man is telling how they all went last year to the 
fete at Fleury, and another how well So-and-so 
would sing of an evening; and here are a third 
and fourth making plans for the whole future of 
their lives ; and there is a fifth imitating a conjuror 
and making faces on his clenched fist, surely of all 
arts the most difficult and admirable ! A sixth has 
eaten his fill, lights a cigarette, and resigns himself 
to digestion. A seventh has just dropped in, and 
calls for soup. Number eight, meanwhile, has left 
the table, and is once more trampling the poor piano 
under powerful and uncertain fingers. 

Dinner over, people drop outside to smoke and 
chat. Perhaps we go along to visit our friends at 
the other end of the village, where there is always 
a good welcome and a good talk, and perhaps some 
pickled oysters and white wine to close the evening. 
190 



FOREST NOTES 

Or a dance is organised in the dining-room, and the 
piano exhibits all its paces under manful jockeying, 
to the light of the three or four candles and a lamp 
or two, while the waltzers move to and fro upon the 
wooden floor, and sober men, who are not given to 
such light pleasures, get up on the table or the side- 
board, and sit there looking on approvingly over a 
pipe and a tumbler of wine. Or sometimes — sup- 
pose my lady moon looks forth, and the court from 
out the half-lit dining-room seems nearly as bright as 
by day, and the light picks out the window-panes, 
and makes a clear shadow under every vine leaf on 
the wall — sometimes a picnic is proposed, and a 
basket made ready, and a good procession formed 
in front of the hotel. The two trumpeters in honour 
go before ; and as we file down the long alley, and 
up through devious footpaths among rocks and pine- 
trees, with every here and there a dark passage of 
shadow, and every here and there a spacious outlook 
over moonlit woods, these two precede us and sound 
many a jolly flourish as they walk. We gather ferns 
and dry boughs into the cavern, and soon a good 
blaze flutters the shadows of the old bandits' haunt, 
and shows shapely beards and comely faces and 
toilettes ranged about the wall. The bowl is lit, 
and the punch is burnt and sent round in scalding 
thimblefuls. So a good hour or two may pass with 
song and jest. And then we go home in the moon- 
light morning, straggling a good deal among the 
birch tufts and the boulders, but ever called together 
again, as one of our leaders winds his horn. Perhaps 

191 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

some one of the party will not heed the summons, 
but chooses out some by-way of his own. As he fol- 
lows the winding sandy road, he hears the flourishes 
grow fainter and fainter in the distance, and die 
finally out, and still walks on in the strange coolness 
and silence and between the crisp lights and shadows 
of the moonlit woods, until suddenly the bell rings 
out the hour from far-away Chailly, and he starts 
to find himself alone. No surf-bell on forlorn and 
perilous shores, no passing knoll over the busy 
market-place, can speak with a more heavy and 
disconsolate tongue to human ears. Each stroke 
calls up a host of ghostly reverberations in his mind. 
And as he stands rooted, it has grown once more 
so utterly silent that it seems to him he might hear 
the church-bells ring the hour out all the world over, 
not at Chailly only, but in Paris, and away in out- 
landish cities, and in the village on the river, where 
his childhood passed between the sun and flowers. 

IDLE HOURS 

The woods by night, in all their uncanny effect, 
are not rightly to be understood until you can com- 
pare them with the woods by day. The stillness of 
the medium, the floor of glittering sand, these trees 
that go streaming up like monstrous sea-weeds and 
waver in the moving winds like the weeds in sub- 
marine currents, all these set the mind working on 
the thought of what you may have seen off a fore- 
land or over the side of a boat, and make you feel 
192 



FOREST NOTES 

like a diver, down in the quiet water, fathoms below 
the tumbling, transitory surface of the sea. And 
yet in itself, as I say, the strangeness of these noc- 
turnal solitudes is not to be felt fully without the 
sense of contrast. You must have risen in the 
morning and seen the woods as they are by day, 
kindled and coloured in the sun's light ; you must 
have felt the odour of innumerable trees at even, 
the unsparing heat along the forest roads, and the 
coolness of the groves. 

And on the first morning you will doubtless rise 
betimes. If you have not been wakened before by 
the visit of some adventurous pigeon, you will be 
wakened as soon as the sun can reach your window 
— for there are no blinds or shutters to keep him 
out — and the room, with its bare wood floor and 
bare whitewashed walls, shines all round you in a 
sort of glory of reflected lights. You may doze 
a while longer by snatches, or lie awake to study 
the charcoal men and dogs and horses with which 
former occupants have defiled the partitions : Thiers, 
with wily profile ; local celebrities, pipe in hand ; or, 
maybe, a romantic landscape splashed in oil. Mean- 
while artist after artist drops into the salle-a-manger 
for coffee, and then shoulders easel, sunshade, stool, 
and paint-box, bound into a fagot, and sets off for 
what he calls his 'motive.' And artist after artist, 
as he goes out of the village, carries with him a 
little following of dogs. For the dogs, who belong 
only nominally to any special master, hang about 
the gate of the forest all day long, and whenever 
21— n 193 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

any one goes by who hits their fancy, profit by his 
escort, and go forth with him to play an hour or two 
at hunting. They would like to be under the trees 
all day. But they cannot go alone. They require 
a pretext. And so they take the passing artist as 
an excuse to go into the woods, as they might take 
a walking-stick as an excuse to bathe. With quick 
ears, long spines, and bandy legs, or perhaps as tall 
as a greyhound and with a bulldog's head, this com- 
pany of mongrels will trot by your side all day and 
come home with you at night, still showing white 
teeth and wagging stunted tail. Their good humour 
is not to be exhausted. You may pelt them with 
stones if you please, and all they will do is to give 
you a wider berth. If once they come out with 
you, to you they will remain faithful, and with you 
return ; although if you meet them next morning in 
the street, it is as like as not they will cut you with 
a countenance of brass. 

The forest — a strange thing for an Englishman — 
is very destitute of birds. This is no country where 
every patch of wood among the meadows gives 
up an incense of song, and every valley wandered 
through by a streamlet rings and reverberates from 
side to side with a profusion of clear notes. And 
this rarity of birds is not to be regretted on its 
own account only. For the insects prosper in their 
absence, and become as one of the plagues of Egypt. 
Ants swarm in the hot sand ; mosquitoes drone their 
nasal drone ; wherever the sun finds a hole in the 
roof of the forest, you see a myriad transparent 
194 



FOREST NOTES 

creatures coming and going in the shaft of light; 
and even between-whiles, even where there is no 
incursion of sun-rays into the dark arcade of the 
wood, you are conscious of a continual drift of 
insects, an ebb and flow of infinitesimal living things 
between the trees. Nor are insects the only evil 
creatures that haunt the forest. For you may plump 
into a cave among the rocks, and find yourself face 
to face with a wild boar, or see a crooked viper 
slither across the road. 

Perhaps you may set yourself down in the bay 
between two spreading beech-roots with a book on 
your lap, and be awakened all of a sudden by a 
friend: 'I say, just keep where you are, will you? 
You make the jolliest motive.' And you reply : 
' Well, I don't mind, if I may smoke.' And there- 
after the hours go idly by. Your friend at the easel 
labours doggedly a little way off, in the wide shadow 
of the tree ; and yet farther, across a strait of glaring 
sunshine, you see another painter, encamped in the 
shadow of another tree, and up to his waist in the 
fern. You cannot watch your own effigy growing 
out of the white trunk, and the trunk beginning to 
stand forth from the rest of the wood, and the whole 
picture getting dappled over with the flecks of sun 
that slip through the leaves overhead, and, as a wind 
goes by and sets the trees a-talking, flicker hither 
and thither like butterflies of light. But you know 
it is going forward ; and, out of emulation with the 
painter, get ready your own palette, and lay out 
the colour for a woodland scene in words. 

195 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

Your tree stands in a hollow paved with fern and 
heather, set in a basin of low hills, and scattered over 
with rocks and junipers. All the open is steeped in 
pitiless sunlight. Everything stands out as though 
it were cut in cardboard, every colour is strained 
into its highest key. The boulders are some of them 
upright and dead like monolithic castles, some of 
them prone like sleeping cattle. The junipers — 
looking, in their soiled and ragged mourning, like 
some funeral procession that has gone seeking the 
place of sepulchre three hundred years and more in 
wind and rain — are daubed in forcibly against the 
glowing ferns and heather. Every tassel of their 
rusty foliage is defined with pre-Raphaelite minute- 
ness. And a sorry figure they make out there in 
the sun, like misbegotten yew-trees ! The scene 
is all pitched in a key of colour so peculiar, and lit 
up with such a discharge of violent sunlight, as a 
man might live fifty years in England and not see. 

Meanwhile at your elbow some one tunes up a 
song, words of Ronsard to a pathetic tremulous air, 
of how the poet loved his mistress long ago, and 
pressed on her the flight of time, and told her how 
white and quiet the dead lay under the stones, and 
how the boat dipped and pitched as the shades 
embarked for the passionless land. Yet a little 
while, sang the poet, and there shall be no more 
love ; only to sit and remember loves that might 
have been. There is a falling flourish in the air that 
remains in the memory and comes back in incon- 
gruous places, on the seat of hansoms or in the 
196 



FOREST NOTES 

warm bed at night, with something of a forest 
savour. 

* You can get up now,' says the painter ; ' I 'm at 
the background.' 

And so up you get, stretching yourself, and go 
your way into the wood, the daylight becoming 
richer and more golden, and the shadows stretching 
farther into the open. A cool air comes along the 
highways, and the scents awaken. The fir-trees 
breathe abroad their ozone. Out of unknown 
thickets comes forth the soft, secret, aromatic odour 
of the woods, not like a smell of the free heaven, 
but as though court ladies, who had known these 
paths in ages long gone by, still walked in the 
summer evenings, and shed from their brocades a 
breath of musk or bergamot upon the woodland 
winds. One side of the long avenues is still kindled 
with the sun, the other is plunged in transparent 
shadow. Over the trees the west begins to burn 
like a furnace ; and the painters gather up their 
chattels, and go down, by avenue or footpath, to 
the plain. 

A PLEASURE PARTY 

As this excursion is a matter of some length, and, 
moreover, we go in force, we have set aside our 
usual vehicle, the pony cart, and ordered a large 
wagonette from Lejosne's. It has been waiting for 
near an hour, while one went to pack a knapsack, 
and t' other hurried over his toilette and coffee ; but 
now it is filled from end to end with merry folk in 

197 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

summer attire, the coachman cracks his whip, and 
amid much applause from round the inn-door off we 
rattle at a spanking trot. The way lies through the 
forest, up hill and down dale, and by beech and pine 
wood, in the cheerful morning sunshine. The Eng- 
lish get down at all the ascents and walk on ahead 
for exercise ; the French are mightily entertained at 
this, and keep coyly underneath the tilt. As we go 
we carry with us a pleasant noise of laughter and 
light speech, and some one will be always breaking 
out into a bar or two of opera bouffe. Before we 
get to the Route Ronde here comes Desprez, the 
colourman from Fontainebleau, trudging across on 
his weekly peddle with a case of merchandise ; and 
it is ' Desprez, leave me some malachite green ' ; 
' Desprez, leave me so much canvas ' ; ' Desprez, 
leave me this, or leave me that ' ; M. Desprez stand- 
ing the while in the sunlight with grave face and 
many salutations. The next interruption is more 
important. For some time back we have had the 
sound of cannon in our ears ; and now, a little past 
Franchard, we find a mounted trooper holding a led 
horse, who brings the wagonette to a stand. The 
artillery is practising in the Quadrilateral, it appears ; 
passage along the Route Ronde formally interdicted 
for the moment. There is nothing for it but to draw 
up at the glaring cross-roads, and get down to make 
fun with the notorious Cocardon, the most ungainly 
and ill-bred dog of all the ungainly and ill-bred 
dogs of Barbizon, or clamber about the sandy banks. 
And meanwhile the Doctor, with sun umbrella, wide 
198 



FOREST NOTES 

Panama, and patriarchal beard, is busy wheedling 
and (for ought the rest of us know) bribing the too 
facile sentry. His speech is smooth and dulcet, his 
manner dignified and insinuating. It is not for 
nothing that the Doctor has voyaged all the world 
over, and speaks all languages from French to Pata- 
gonian. He has not come home from perilous 
journeys to be thwarted by a corporal of horse. 
And so we soon see the soldier's mouth relax, and 
his shoulders imitate a relenting heart. * En voiture, 
Messieurs, MesdamesJ sings the Doctor ; and on we 
go again at a good round pace, for black care follows 
hard after us, and discretion prevails not a little over 
valour in some timorous spirits of the party. At any 
moment we may meet the sergeant, who will send 
us back. At any moment we may encounter a flying 
shell, which will send us somewhere farther off than 
Grez. 

Grez — for that is our destination — has been highly 
recommended for its beauty. e II y a de VeauJ 
people have said, with an emphasis, as if that settled 
the question, which, for a French mind, I am rather 
led to think it does. And Grez, when we get there, 
is indeed a place worthy of some praise. It lies out 
of the forest, a cluster of houses, with an old bridge, 
an old castle in ruin, and a quaint old church. The 
inn garden descends in terraces to the river ; stable- 
yard, kailyard, orchard, and a space of lawn, fringed 
with rushes and embellished with a green arbour. 
On the opposite bank there is a reach of English- 
looking plain, set thickly with willows and poplars. 

199 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

And between the two lies the river, clear and deep, 
and full of reeds and floating lilies. Water plants 
cluster about the starlings of the long low bridge, 
and stand half-way up upon the piers in green 
luxuriance. They catch the dipped oar with long 
antennas, and chequer the slimy bottom with the 
shadow of their leaves. And the river wanders 
hither and thither among the islets, and is smothered 
and broken up by the reeds, like an old building in 
the lithe, hardy arms of the climbing ivy. You may 
watch the box where the good man of the inn keeps 
fish alive for his kitchen, one oily ripple following 
another over the top of the yellow deal. And you 
can hear a splashing and a prattle of voices from 
the shed under the old kirk, where the village 
women wash and wash all day among the fish and 
water-lilies. It seems as if linen washed there 
should be specially cool and sweet. 

We have come here for the river. And no sooner 
have we all bathed than we board the two shallops 
and push off* gaily, and go gliding under the trees 
and gathering a great treasure of water-lilies. 
Some one sings ; some trail their hands in the cool 
water ; some lean over the gunwale to see the image 
of the tall poplars far below, and the shadow of the 
boat, with the balanced oars and their own head 
protruded, glide smoothly over the yellow floor of 
the stream. At last, the day declining — all silent 
and happy, and up to the knees in the wet lilies — 
we punt slowly back again to the landing-place 
beside the bridge. There is a wish for solitude 
200 



FOREST NOTES 

on all. One hides himself in the arbour with a 
cigarette ; another goes a walk in the country with 
Cocardon ; a third inspects the church. And it is 
not till dinner is on the table, and the inn's best 
wine goes round from glass to glass, that we begin 
to throw off the restraint and fuse once more into a 
jolly fellowship. 

Half the party are to return to-night with the 
wagonette ; and some of the others, loath to break 
up good company, will go with them a bit of the 
way and drink a stirrup-cup at Marlotte. It is dark 
in the wagonette, and not so merry as it might have 
been. The coachman loses the road. So-and-so 
tries to light fireworks with the most indifferent 
success. Some sing, but the rest are too weary to 
applaud ; and it seems as if the festival were fairly 
at an end — 

' Nous avons fait la noce, 
Rentrons a nos foyers ! ' 

And such is the burthen, even after we have come 
to Marlotte and taken our places in the court at 
Mother Antonine's. There is punch on the long 
table out in the open air, where the guests dine in 
summer weather. The candles flare in the night 
wind, and the faces round the punch are lit up, with 
shifting emphasis, against a background of complete 
and solid darkness. It is all picturesque enough ; 
but the fact is, we are aweary. We yawn ; we are 
out of the vein ; we have made the wedding, as the 
song says, and now, for pleasure's sake, let 's make an 
end on 't. When here comes striding into the court, 

201 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

booted to mid-thigh, spurred and splashed, in a 
jacket of green cord, the great, famous, and redoubt- 
able Blank ; and in a moment the fire kindles again, 
and the night is witness of our laughter as he 
imitates Spaniards, Germans, Englishmen, picture- 
dealers, all eccentric ways of speaking and thinking, 
with a possession, a fury, a strain of mind and voice, 
that would rather suggest a nervous crisis than a 
desire to please. We are as merry as ever when the 
trap sets forth again, and say farewell noisily to all 
the good folk going farther. Then, as we are far 
enough from thoughts of sleep, we visit Blank in his 
quaint house, and sit an hour or so in a great 
tapestried chamber, laid with furs, littered with 
sleeping hounds, and lit up, in fantastic shadow and 
shine, by a wood-fire in a mediaeval chimney. And 
then we plod back through the darkness to the inn 
beside the river. 

How quick bright things come to confusion ! 
When we arise next morning, the grey showers fall 
steadily, the trees hang limp, and the face of the 
stream is spoiled with dimpling raindrops. Yester- 
day's lilies encumber the garden walk, or begin, 
dismally enough, their voyage towards the Seine 
and the salt sea. A sickly shimmer lies upon the 
dripping house roofs, and all the colour is washed 
out of the green and golden landscape of last night, 
as though an envious man had taken a water-colour 
sketch and blotted it together with a sponge. We 
go out a-walking in the wet roads. But the roads 
about Grez have a trick of their own. They go on 
202 



FOREST NOTES 

for a while among clumps of willows and patches of 
vine, and then, suddenly and without any warning, 
cease and determine in some miry hollow or upon 
some bald knowe ; and you have a short period of 
hope, then right-about face, and back the way you 
came ! So we draw about the kitchen fire and play 
a round game of cards for ha'pence, or go to the 
billiard-room for a match at corks ; and by one 
consent a messenger is sent over for the wagonette 
— Grez shall be left to-morrow. 

To-morrow dawns so fair that two of the party 
agree to walk back for exercise, and let their knap- 
sacks follow by the trap. I need hardly say they 
are neither of them French ; for, of all English 
phrases, the phrase 'for exercise' is the least com- 
prehensible across the Straits of Dover. All goes 
well for a while with the pedestrians. The wet 
woods are full of scents in the noontide. At a 
certain cross, where there is a guard-house, they 
make a halt, for the forester's wife is the daughter of 
their good host at Barbizon. And so there they are 
hospitably received by the comely woman, with one 
child in her arms and another prattling and tottering 
at her gown, and drink some syrup of quince in the 
back parlour, with a map of the forest on the wall, 
and some prints of love-affairs and the great 
Napoleon hunting. As they draw near the Quadri- 
lateral, and hear once more the report of the big 
guns, they take a by-road to avoid the sentries, and 
go on a while somewhat vaguely, with the sound of 
the cannon in their ears and the rain beginning to 

203 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

fall. The ways grow wider and sandier ; here and 
there there are real sandhills, as though by the 
seashore ; the fir-wood is open and grows in clumps 
upon the hillocks, and the race of sign-posts is no 
more. One begins to look at the other doubtfully. 
' I am sure we should keep more to the right,' says 
one ; and the other is just as certain they should 
hold to the left. And now, suddenly, the heavens 
open, and the rain falls ' sheer and strong and loud,' 
as out of a shower-bath. In a moment they are as 
wet as shipwrecked sailors. They cannot see out of 
their eyes for the drift, and the water churns and 
gurgles in their boots. They leave the track and try 
across country with a gambler's desperation, for it 
seems as if it were impossible to make the situation 
worse ; and, for the next hour, go scrambling from 
boulder to boulder, or plod along paths that are now 
no more than rivulets, and across waste clearings 
where the scattered shells and broken fir-trees tell 
all too plainly of the cannon in the distance. And 
meantime the cannon grumble out responses to the 
grumbling thunder. There is such a mixture of 
melodrama and sheer discomfort about all this, it is 
at once so grey and so lurid, that it is far more 
agreeable to read and write about by the chimney- 
corner than to suffer in the person. At last they 
chance on the right path, and make Franchard in 
the early evening, the sorriest pair of wanderers that 
ever welcomed English ale. Thence, by the Bois 
d'Hy ver, the Ventes- Alexandre, and the Pins Brules, 
to the clean hostelry, dry clothes, and dinner. 
204 



FOREST NOTES 



THE WOODS IN SPRING 



I think you will like the forest best in the sharp 
early spring-time, when it is just beginning to re- 
awaken, and innumerable violets peep from among 
the fallen leaves ; when two or three people at most 
sit down to dinner, and, at table, you will do well to 
keep a rug about your knees, for the nights are chill, 
and the salle-a-manger opens on the court. There 
is less to distract the attention, for one thing, and 
the forest is more itself. It is not bedotted with 
artists' sunshades as with unknown mushrooms, nor 
bestrewn with the remains of English picnics. The 
hunting still goes on, and at any moment your heart 
may be brought into your mouth as you hear 
far-away horns ; or you may be told by an agitated 
peasant that the Vicomte has gone up the avenue, 
not ten minutes since, ' a fond de train, monsieur, 
et avec douze piqueurs.' 

If you go up to some coign of vantage in the 
system of low hills that permeates the forest, you 
will see many different tracts of country, each of its 
own cold and melancholy neutral tint, and all mixed 
together and mingled the one into the other at the 
seams. You will see tracts of leafless beeches of a 
faint yellowish grey, and leafless oaks a little ruddier 
in the hue. Then zones of pine of a solemn green ; 
and, dotted among the pines, or standing by them- 
selves in rocky clearings, the delicate, snow-white 
trunks of birches, spreading out into snow-white 
branches yet more delicate, and crowned and 

205 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

canopied with a purple haze of twigs. And then a 
long, bare ridge of tumbled boulders, with bright 
sandbreaks between them, and wavering sandy roads 
among the bracken and brown heather. It is all 
rather cold and unhomely. It has not the perfect 
beauty, nor the gem-like colouring, of the wood in 
the later year, when it is no more than one vast 
colonnade of verdant shadow, tremulous with insects, 
intersected here and there by lanes of sunlight set 
in purple heather. The loveliness of the woods in 
March is not, assuredly, of this blowsy rustic type. 
It is made sharp with a grain of salt, with a touch of 
ugliness. It has a sting like the sting of bitter ale ; 
you acquire the love of it as men acquire a taste for 
olives. And the wonderful clear, pure air wells into 
your lungs the while by voluptuous inhalations, and 
makes the eyes bright, and sets the heart tinkling to 
a new tune — or, rather, to an old tune ; for you 
remember in your boyhood something akin to this 
spirit of adventure, this thirst for exploration, that 
now takes you masterfully by the hand, plunges you 
into many a deep grove, and drags you over many a 
stony crest. It is as if the whole wood were full of 
friendly voices calling you farther in, and you turn 
from one side to another, like Buridan's donkey, in a 
maze of pleasure. 

Comely beeches send up their white, straight, 
clustered branches, barred with green moss, like so 
many ringers from a half-clenched hand. Mighty oaks 
stand to the ankles in a fine tracery of underwood ; 
thence the tall shaft climbs upward, and the great 
206 



FOREST NOTES 

forest of stalwart boughs spreads out into the golden 
evening sky, where the rooks are flying and calling. 
On the sward of the Bois d'Hy ver the firs stand well 
asunder with outspread arms, like fencers saluting ; 
and the air smells of resin all around, and the sound 
of the axe is rarely still. But strangest of all, and 
in appearance oldest of all, are the dim and wizard 
upland districts of young wood. The ground is 
carpeted with fir-tassel, and strewn with fir-apples 
and flakes of fallen bark. Rocks lie crouching in 
the thicket, guttered with rain, tufted with lichen, 
white with years and the rigours of the changeful 
seasons. Brown and yellow butterflies are sown and 
carried away again by the light air — like thistledown. 
The loneliness of these coverts is so excessive, that 
there are moments when pleasure draws to the verge 
of fear. You listen and listen for some noise to 
break the silence, till you grow half mesmerised by 
the intensity of the strain ; your sense of your 
own identity is troubled ; your brain reels, like that 
of some gymnosophist poring on his own nose in 
Asiatic jungles ; and should you see your own out- 
spread feet, you see them, not as anything of yours, 
but as a feature of the scene around you. 

Still the forest is always, but the stillness is not 
always unbroken. You can hear the wind pass in 
the distance over the tree-tops ; sometimes briefly, 
like the noise of a train ; sometimes with a long- 
steady rush, like the breaking of waves. And some- 
times, close at hand, the branches move, a moan 
goes through the thicket, and the wood thrills to 

207 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

its heart. Perhaps you may hear a carriage on the 
road to Fontainebleau, a bird gives a dry continual 
chirp, the dead leaves rustle underfoot, or you may 
time your steps to the steady recurrent strokes of 
the woodman's axe. From time to time, over the 
low grounds, a flight of rooks goes by ; and from 
time to time the cooing of wild doves falls upon 
the ear, not sweet and rich and near at hand as in 
England, but a sort of voice of the woods, thin and 
far away, as fits these solemn places. Or you hear 
suddenly the hollow, eager, violent barking of dogs ; 
scared deer flit past you through the fringes of the 
wood ; then a man or two running, in green blouse, 
with gun and game-bag on a bandolier ; and then, 
out of the thick of the trees, comes the jar of rifle- 
shots. Or perhaps the hounds are out, and horns 
are blown, and scarlet-coated huntsmen flash through 
the clearings, and the solid noise of horses galloping 
passes below you, where you sit perched among the 
rocks and heather. The boar is afoot ; and all over 
the forest, and in all neighbouring villages, there is a 
vague excitement and a vague hope ; for who knows 
whither the chase may lead ? and even to have seen 
a single piqueur, or spoken to a single sportsman, is 
to be a man of consequence for the night. 

Besides men who shoot and men who ride with 
the hounds, there are few people in the forest, in 
the early spring, save woodcutters plying their axes 
steadily, and old women and children gathering 
wood for the fire. You may meet such a party 
coming home in the twilight : the old woman laden 
208 



FOREST NOTES 

with a fagot of chips, and the little ones hauling a 
long branch behind them in her wake. That is the 
worst of what there is to encounter ; and if I tell you 
of what once happened to a friend of mine, it is by 
no means to tantalise you with false hopes ; for the 
adventure was unique. It was on a very cold, still, 
sunless morning, with a flat grey sky and a frosty 
tingle in the air, that this friend (who shall here be 
nameless) heard the notes of a key-bugle played with 
much hesitation, and saw the smoke of a fire spread 
out along the green pine-tops, in a remote uncanny 
glen, hard by a hill of naked boulders. He drew 
near warily, and beheld a picnic party seated under 
a tree in an open. The old father knitted a sock, 
the mother sat staring at the fire. The eldest son, 
in the uniform of a private of dragoons, was 
choosing out notes on a key-bugle. Two or three 
daughters lay in the neighbourhood picking violets. 
And the whole party as grave and silent as the 
woods around them ! My friend watched for 
a long time, he says ; but all held their peace ; 
not one spoke or smiled ; only the dragoon kept 
choosing out single notes upon the bugle, and the 
father knitted away at his work and made strange 
movements the while with his flexible eyebrows. 
They took no notice whatever of my friend's pre- 
sence, which was disquieting in itself, and increased 
the resemblance of the whole party to mechanical 
wax-works. Certainly, he affirms, a wax figure 
might have played the bugle with more spirit than 
that strange dragoon. And as this hypothesis of his 
21 — o 209 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

became more certain, the awful insolubility of why 
they should be left out there in the woods with 
nobody to wind them up again when they ran 
down, and a growing disquietude as to what might 
happen next, became too much for his courage, 
and he turned tail, and fairly took to his heels. It 
might have been a singing in his ears, but he fancies 
he was followed as he ran by a peal of Titanic 
laughter. Nothing has ever transpired to clear up 
the mystery ; it may be they were automata ; or it 
may be (and this is the theory to which I lean 
myself) that this is all another chapter of Heine's 
* Gods in Exile ' ; that the upright old man with 
the eyebrows was no other than Father Jove, and 
the young dragoon with the taste for music either 
Apollo or Mars. 

MORALITY 

Strange indeed is the attraction of the forest for 
the minds of men. Not one or two only, but a 
great chorus of grateful voices have arisen to spread 
abroad its fame. Half the famous writers of modern 
France have had their word to say about Fontaine- 
bleau. Chateaubriand, Michelet, Beranger, George 
Sand, de Senancour, Flaubert, Murger, the brothers 
Goncourt, Theodore de Banville, each of these has 
done something to the eternal praise and memory 
of these woods. Even at the very worst of times, 
even when the picturesque was anathema in the 
eyes of all Persons of Taste, the forest still pre- 
210 



FOREST NOTES 

served a certain reputation for beauty. It was in 
1730 that the Abbe Guilbert published his His- 
torical Description of the Palace, Town, and Forest 
of Fontainebleau. And very droll it is to see him, 
as he tries to set forth his admiration in terms 
of what was then permissible. The monstrous 
rocks, etc., says the Abbe, 'sont admirees avec 
surprise des voyageurs qui s ecrient aussitot avec 
Horace : Ut mihi devio rupes et vacuum nemus 
mirari libet' The good man is not exactly lyrical 
in his praise ; and you see how he sets his back 
against Horace as against a trusty oak. Horace, 
at any rate, was classical. For the rest, however, 
the Abbe likes places where many alleys meet ; or 
which, like the Belle-Etoile, are kept up ' by a 
special gardener,' and admires at the Table du Roi 
the labours of the Grand Master of Woods and 
Waters, the Sieur de la Falure, ' qui a fait faire ce 
magnifique endroit.' 

But indeed, it is not so much for its beauty that 
the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for 
that subtle something, that quality of the air, that 
emanation from the old trees, that so wonderfully 
changes and renews a weary spirit. Disappointed 
men, sick Francis Firsts and vanquished Grand 
Monarchs, time out of mind have come here for 
consolation. Hither perplexed folk have retired 
out of the press of life, as into a deep bay-window 
on some night of masquerade, and here found quiet 
and silence, and rest, the mother of wisdom. It is 
the great moral spa ; this forest without a fountain 

211 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

is itself the great fountain of Juventius. It is the 
best place in the world to bring an old sorrow that 
has been a long while your friend and enemy ; and 
if, like Beranger's, your gaiety has run away from 
home and left open the door for sorrow to come in, 
of all covers in Europe, it is here you may expect to 
find the truant hid. With every hour you change. 
The air penetrates through your clothes, and nestles 
to your living body. You love exercise and slum- 
ber, long fasting and full meals. You forget all 
your scruples and live a while in peace and freedom, 
and for the moment only. For here, all is absent 
that can stimulate to moral feeling. Such people 
as you see may be old, or toil-worn, or sorry ; but 
you see them framed in the forest, like figures on a 
painted canvas ; and for you, they are not people in 
any living and kindly sense. You forget the grim 
contrariety of interests. You forget the narrow lane 
where all men jostle together in unchivalrous con- 
tention, and the kennel, deep and unclean, that 
gapes on either hand for the defeated. Life is 
simple enough, it seems, and the very idea of sacri- 
fice becomes like a mad fancy out of a last night's 
dream. 

Your ideal is not perhaps high, but it is plain 
and possible. You become enamoured of a life of 
change and movement and the open air, where the 
muscles shall be more exercised than the affections. 
When you have had your will of the forest, you 
may visit the whole round world. You may buckle 
on your knapsack and take the road on foot. You 
212 



FOREST NOTES 

may bestride a good nag, and ride forth, with a pair 
of saddle-bags, into the enchanted East. You may 
cross the Black Forest, and see Germany widespread 
before you, like a map, dotted with old cities, walled 
and spired, that dream all day on their own reflec- 
tions in the Rhine or Danube. You may pass the 
spinal cord of Europe and go down from Alpine 
glaciers to where Italy extends her marble moles 
and glasses her marble palaces in the midland sea. 
You may sleep in flying trains or wayside taverns. 
You may be awakened at dawn by the scream of 
the express or the small pipe of the robin in the 
hedge. For you the rain should allay the dust of 
the beaten road; the wind dry your clothes upon 
you as you walked. Autumn should hang out 
russet pears and purple grapes along the lane; inn 
after inn proffer you their cups of raw wine ; river 
by river receive your body in the sultry noon. 
Wherever you went warm valleys and high trees 
and pleasant villages should compass you about ; and 
light fellowships should take you by the arm, 
and walk with you an hour upon your way. You 
may see from afar off what it will come to in the 
end — the weather-beaten red-nosed vagabond, con- 
sumed by a fever of the feet, cut off from all near 
touch of human sympathy, a waif, an Ishmael, and 
an outcast. And yet it will seem well — and yet, in 
the air of the forest, this will seem the best — to 
break all the network bound about your feet by 
birth and old companionship and loyal love, and 
bear your shovelful of phosphates to and fro, in 

213 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

town and country, until the hour of the great dis- 
solvent. 

Or, perhaps, you will keep to the cover. For the 
forest is by itself, and forest life owns small kinship 
with life in the dismal land of labour. Men are so 
far sophisticated that they cannot take the world 
as it is given to them by the sight of their eyes. 
Not only what they see and hear, but what they 
know to be behind, enter into their notion of a 
place. If the sea, for instance, lie just across the 
hills, sea-thoughts will come to them at intervals, 
and the tenor of their dreams from time to time 
will suffer a sea-change. And so here, in this forest, 
a knowledge of its greatness is for much in the 
effect produced. You reckon up the miles that lie 
between you and intrusion. You may walk before 
you all day long, and not fear to touch the barrier 
of your Eden, or stumble out of fairyland into the 
land of gin and steam-hammers. And there is an 
old tale enhances for the imagination the grandeur 
of the woods of France, and secures you in the 
thought of your seclusion. When Charles vi. 
hunted in the time of his wild boyhood near 
Senlis, there was captured an old stag, having a 
collar of bronze about his neck, and these words 
engraved on the collar : i Caesar mihi hoc donavit.' 
It is no wonder if the minds of men were moved at 
this occurrence and they stood aghast to find them- 
selves thus touching hands with forgotten ages, 
and following an antiquity with hound and horn. 
And even for you, it is scarcely in an idle curio- 
214 



FOREST NOTES 

sity that you ponder how many centuries this 
stag had carried its free antlers through the wood, 
and how many summers and winters had shone and 
snowed on the imperial badge. If the extent of 
solemn wood could thus safeguard a tall stag from 
the hunters' hounds and horses, might not you also 
play hide-and-seek, in these groves, with all the 
pangs and trepidations of man's life, and elude 
Death, the mighty hunter, for more than the span 
of human years ? Here, also, crash his arrows ; 
here, in the farthest glade, sounds the gallop of the 
pale horse. But he does not hunt this cover with 
all his hounds, for the game is thin and small : and 
if you were but alert and wary, if you lodged ever 
in the deepest thickets, you too might live on into 
later generations and astonish men by your stalwart 
age and the trophies of an immemorial success. 

For the forest takes away from you all excuse to 
die. There is nothing here to cabin or thwart your 
free desires. Here all the impudencies of the 
brawling world reach you no more. You may 
count your hours, like Endymion, by the strokes of 
the lone woodcutter, or by the progression of the 
lights and shadows and the sun wheeling his wide 
circuit through the naked heavens. Here shall you 
see no enemies but winter and rough weather. And 
if a pang comes to you at all, it will be a pang 
of healthful hunger. All the puling sorrows, all the 
carking repentance, all this talk of duty that is no 
duty, in the great peace, in the pure daylight of 
these woods, fall away from you like a garment. 

215 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

And if perchance you come forth upon an eminence, 
where the wind blows upon you large and fresh, and 
the pines knock their long stems together, like an 
ungainly sort of puppets, and see far away over the 
plain a factory chimney denned against the pale 
horizon — it is for you, as for the staid and simple 
peasant when, with his plough, he upturns old arms 
and harness from the furrow of the glebe. Ay, sure 
enough, there was a battle there in the old times ; 
and, sure enough, there is a world out yonder where 
men strive together with a noise of oaths and 
weeping and clamorous dispute. So much you 
apprehend by an athletic act of the imagination. 
A faint far-off rumour as of Merovingian wars ; a 
legend as of some dead religion. 



IX 

A MOUNTAIN TOWN IN FRANCE 

(A Fragment, 1879 : Originally intended to serve as the opening chapter of 
e Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes.') 

Le Monastier is the chief place of a hilly canton 
in Haute Loire, the ancient Velay. As the name 
betokens, the town is of monastic origin ; and it still 
contains a towered bulk of monastery and a church 
of some architectural pretensions, the seat of an 
arch-priest and several vicars. It stands on the side 
of a hill above the river Gazeille, about fifteen miles 
from Le Puy, up a steep road where the wolves 
sometimes pursue the diligence in winter. The 
216 



A MOUNTAIN TOWN IN FRANCE 

road, which is bound for Vivarais, passes through 
the town from end to end in a single narrow street ; 
there you may see the fountain where women fill 
their pitchers ; there also some old houses with 
carved doors and pediments and ornamental work in 
iron. For Monastier, like Maybole in Ayrshire, was 
a sort of country capital, where the local aristocracy 
had their town mansions for the winter ; and there 
is a certain baron still alive and, I am told, extremely 
penitent, who found means to ruin himself by high 
living in this village on the hills. He certainly has 
claims to be considered the most remarkable spend- 
thrift on record. How he set about it, in a place 
where there are no luxuries for sale, and where the 
board at the best inn comes to little more than a 
shilling a day, is a problem for the wise. His son, 
ruined as the family was, went as far as Paris to sow 
his wild oats ; and so the cases of father and son 
mark an epoch in the history of centralisation in 
France. Not until the latter had got into the train 
was the work of Richelieu complete. 

It is a people of lace-makers. The women sit in 
the streets by groups of five or six ; and the noise of 
the bobbins is audible from one group to another. 
Now and then you will hear one woman clattering 
off prayers for the edification of the others at their 
work. They wear gaudy shawls, white caps with a 
gay ribbon about the head, and sometimes a black 
felt brigand hat above the cap ; and so they give the 
street colour and brightness and a foreign air. A 
while ago, when England largely supplied herself 

217 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

from this district with the lace called torchon, it was 
not unusual to earn five francs a day ; and five francs 
in Monastier is worth a pound in London. Now, 
from a change in the market, it takes a clever and 
industrious workwoman to earn from three to four 
in the week, or less than an eighth of what she made 
easily a few years ago. The tide of prosperity came 
and went, as with our northern pitmen, and left 
nobody the richer. The women bravely squandered 
their gains, kept the men in idleness, and gave them- 
selves up, as I was told, to sweethearting and a merry 
life. From week's end to week's end it was one con- 
tinuous gala in Monastier ; people spent the day in 
the wine-shops, and the drum or the bagpipes led on 
the bourrees up to ten at night. Now these dancing 
days are over. * 77 riy a plus dejeunesse,' said Victor 
the garcon. I hear of no great advance in what are 
thought the essentials of morality ; but the bourree, 
with its rambling, sweet, interminable music, and 
alert and rustic figures, has fallen into disuse, and is 
mostly remembered as a custom of the past. Only 
on the occasion of the fair shall you hear a drum 
discreetly rattling in a wine-shop or perhaps one of 
the company singing the measure while the others 
dance. I am sorry at the change, and marvel once 
more at the complicated scheme of things upon this 
earth, and how a turn of fashion in England can 
silence so much mountain merriment in France. 
The lace-makers themselves have not entirely for- 
given our countrywomen ; and I think they take a 
special pleasure in the legend of the northern quarter 
218 



A MOUNTAIN TOWN IN FRANCE 

of the town, called L'Anglade, because there the 
English free-lances were arrested and driven back by 
the potency of a little Virgin Mary on the wall. 

From time to time a market is held, and the town 
has a season of revival ; cattle and pigs are stabled 
in the streets ; and pickpockets have been known 
to come all the way from Lyons for the occasion. 
Every Sunday the country folk throng in with day- 
light to buy apples, to attend mass, and to visit one 
of the wine-shops, of which there are no fewer than 
fifty in this little town. Sunday wear for the men 
is a green tail-coat of some coarse sort of drugget, 
and usually a complete suit to match. I have never 
set eyes on such degrading raiment. Here it clings, 
there bulges ; and the human body, with its agree- 
able and lively lines, is turned into a mockery and 
laughing-stock. Another piece of Sunday business 
with the peasants is to take their ailments to the 
chemist for advice. It is as much a matter for 
Sunday as church-going. I have seen a woman who 
had been unable to speak since the Monday before, 
wheezing, catching her breath, endlessly and pain- 
fully coughing ; and yet she had waited upwards of 
a hundred hours before coming to seek help, and 
had the week been twice as long, she would have 
waited still. There was a canonical day for con- 
sultation ; such was the ancestral habit, to which a 
respectable lady must study to conform. 

Two conveyances go daily to Le Puy, but they 
rival each other in polite concessions rather than in 
speed. Each will wait an hour or two hours cheer- 

219 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

fully while an old lady does her marketing or a gentle- 
man finishes the papers in a cafe\ The Courrier 
(such is the name of one) should leave Le Puy by 
two in the afternoon on the return voyage, and arrive 
at Monastier in good time for a six-o'clock dinner. 
But the driver dares not disoblige his customers. 
He will postpone his departure again and again, 
hour after hour; and I have known the sun to 
go down on his delay. These purely personal 
favours, this consideration of men's fancies, rather 
than the hands of a mechanical clock, as marking 
the advance of the abstraction, time, makes a more 
humorous business of stage-coaching than we are 
used to see it. 

As far as the eye can reach, one swelling line of 
hill-top rises and falls behind another; and if you 
climb an eminence, it is only to see new and farther 
ranges behind these. Many little rivers run from all 
sides in cliffy valleys ; and one of them, a few miles 
from Monastier, bears the great name of Loire. The 
mean level of the country is a little more than three 
thousand feet above the sea, which makes the atmo- 
sphere proportionally brisk and wholesome. There 
is little timber except pines, and the greater part of 
the country lies in moorland pasture. The country 
is wild and tumbled rather than commanding; an 
upland rather than a mountain district ; and the 
most striking as well as the most agreeable scenery 
lies low beside the rivers. There, indeed, you will 
find many corners that take the fancy ; such as made 
the English noble choose his grave by a Swiss 
220 



A MOUNTAIN TOWN IN FRANCE 

streamlet, where nature is at her freshest, and looks 
as young as on the seventh morning. Such a place 
is the course of the Gazeille, where it waters the 
common of Monastier and thence downward till it 
joins the Loire ; a place to hear birds singing ; a 
place for lovers to frequent. The name of the river 
was perhaps suggested by the sound of its passage 
over the stones ; for it is a great warbler, and at 
night, after I was in bed in Monastier, I could hear 
it go singing down the valley till I fell asleep. 

On the whole, this is a Scottish landscape, although 
not so noble as the best in Scotland ; and by an odd 
coincidence, the population is, in its way, as Scottish 
as the country. They- have abrupt, uncouth, Fife- 
shire manners, and accost you, as if you were tres- 
passing, with an * Oust-ce que vous allez ? ' only 
translatable into the Lowland * Whau'r ye gaun ? ' 
They keep the Scottish Sabbath. There is no labour 
done on that day but to drive in and out the various 
pigs and sheep and cattle that make so pleasant a 
tinkling in the meadows. The lace-makers have 
disappeared from the street. Not to attend mass 
would involve social degradation ; and you may find 
people reading Sunday books, in particular a sort of 
Catholic Monthly Visitor on the doings of Our Lady 
of Lourdes. I remember one Sunday, when I was 
walking in the country, that I fell on a hamlet and 
found all the inhabitants, from the patriarch to the 
baby, gathered in the shadow of a gable at prayer. 
One strapping lass stood with her back to the wall 
and did the solo part, the rest chiming in devoutly. 

221 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

Not far off, a lad lay flat on his face asleep among 
some straw, to represent the worldly element. 

Again, this people is eager to proselytise ; and the 
postmaster's daughter used to argue with me by 
the half-hour about my heresy, until she grew quite 
flushed. I have heard the reverse process going on 
between a Scotswoman and a French girl ; and the 
arguments in the two cases were identical. Each 
apostle based her claim on the superior virtue and 
attainments of her clergy, and clinched the business 
with a threat of hell-fire. 'Pas bong pretres ici,' 
said the Presbyterian, 'bong pretres en Ecosse.' 
And the postmaster's daughter, taking up the same 
weapon, plied me, so to speak, with the butt of it 
instead of the bayonet. We are a hopeful race, it 
seems, and easily persuaded for our good. One 
cheerful circumstance I note in these guerilla mis- 
sions, that each side relies on hell, and Protestant 
and Catholic alike address themselves to a supposed 
misgiving in their adversary's heart. And I call it 
cheerful, for faith is a more supporting quality than 
imagination. 

Here, as in Scotland, many peasant families boast 
a son in holy orders. And here also, the young 
men have a tendency to emigrate. It is certainly 
not poverty that drives them to the great cities or 
across the seas, for many peasant families, I was 
told, have a fortune of at least 40,000 francs. The 
lads go forth pricked with the spirit of adventure 
and the desire to rise in life, and leave their home- 
spun elders grumbling and wondering over the event. 
222 



A MOUNTAIN TOWN IN FRANCE 

Once, at a village called Laussonne, I met one of 
these disappointed parents : a drake who had fathered 
a wild swan and seen it take wing and disappear. 
The wild swan in question was now an apothecary 
in Brazil. He had flown by way of Bordeaux, and 
first landed in America, bare-headed and bare-foot, 
and with a single halfpenny in his pocket. And 
now he was an apothecary ! Such a wonderful 
thing is an adventurous life ! I thought he might 
as well have stayed at home ; but you never can tell 
wherein a man's life consists, nor in what he sets his 
pleasure : one to drink, another to marry, a third to 
write scurrilous articles and be repeatedly caned 
in public, and now this fourth, perhaps, to be an 
apothecary in Brazil. As for his old father, he 
could conceive no reason for the lad's behaviour. 

* I had always bread for him,' he said ; * he ran away 
to annoy me. He loved to annoy me. He had no 
gratitude.' But at heart he was swelling with pride 
over his travelled offspring, and he produced a letter 
out of his pocket, where, as he said, it was rotting, 
a mere lump of paper rags, and waved it gloriously 
in the air. 'This comes from America,' he cried, 

* six thousand leagues away ! ' And the wine-shop 
audience looked upon it with a certain thrill. 

I soon became a popular figure, and was known 
for miles in the country. Oust-ce que vous allez? 
was changed for me into Quoi, vous rentrez au 
Monastier ce soir? and in the town itself every 
urchin seemed to know my name, although no 
living creature could pronounce it. There was one 

223 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

particular group of lace-makers who brought out a 
chair for me whenever I went by, and detained me 
from my walk to gossip. They were filled with 
curiosity about England, its language, its religion, 
the dress of the women, and were never weary of 
seeing the Queen's head on English postage-stamps 
or seeking for French words in English Journals. 
The language, in particular, filled them with surprise. 

' Do they speak patois in England ? ' I was once 
asked; and when I told them not, 'ah, then, French?' 
said they. 

' No, no,' I said, ' not French.' 

' Then,' they concluded, ' they speak patois.' 

You must obviously either speak French or 
patois. Talk of the force of logic — here it was in 
all its weakness. I gave up the point, but pro- 
ceeding to give illustrations of my native jargon, I 
was met with a new mortification. Of all patois 
they declared that mine was the most preposterous 
and the most jocose in sound. At each new 
word there was a new explosion of laughter, and 
some of the younger ones were glad to rise from 
their chairs and stamp about the street in ecstasy ; 
and I looked on upon their mirth in a faint and 
slightly disagreeable bewilderment. * Bread,' which 
sounds a commonplace, plain-sailing monosyllable 
in England, was the word that most delighted these 
good ladies of Monastier ; it seemed to them frolic- 
some and racy, like a page of Pickwick ; and they 
all got it carefully by heart, as a stand-by, I pre- 
sume, for winter evenings. I have tried it since 
224 



A MOUNTAIN TOWN IN FRANCE 

then with every sort of accent and inflection, but 
I seem to lack the sense of humour. 

They were of all ages : children at their first web 
of lace, a stripling girl with a bashful but encourag- 
ing play of eyes, solid married women, and grand- 
mothers, some on the top of their age and some 
falling towards decrepitude. One and all were 
pleasant and natural, ready to laugh and ready with 
a certain quiet solemnity when that was called for 
by the subject of our talk. Life, since the fall in 
wages, had begun to appear to them with a more 
serious air. The stripling girl would sometimes 
laugh at me in a provocative and not unadmiring 
manner, if I judge aright ; and one of the grand- 
mothers, who was my great friend of the party, gave 
me many a sharp word of judgment on my sketches, 
my heresy, or even my arguments, and gave them 
with a wry mouth and a humorous twinkle in her 
eye that were eminently Scottish. But the rest 
used me with a certain reverence, as something 
come from afar and not entirely human. Nothing 
would put them at their ease but the irresistible 
gaiety of my native tongue. Between the old lady 
and myself I think there was a real attachment. 
She was never weary of sitting to me for her por- 
trait, in her best cap and brigand hat, and with all 
her wrinkles tidily composed, and though she never 
failed to repudiate the result, she would always insist 
upon another trial. It was as good as a play to see 
her sitting in judgment over the last. ' No, no,' 
she would say, * that is not it. I am old, to be sure, 
21 — p 225 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

but I am better-looking than that. We must try 
again.' When I was about to leave she bade me 
good-bye for this life in a somewhat touching 
manner. We should not meet again, she said; it 
was a long farewell, and she was sorry. But life is 
so full of crooks, old lady, that who knows ? I have 
said good-bye to people for greater distances and 
times, and, please God, I mean to see them yet 
again. 

One thing was notable about these women, from 
the youngest to the oldest, and with hardly an ex- 
ception. In spite of their piety, they could twang 
off an oath with Sir Toby Belch in person. There 
was nothing so high or so low, in heaven or earth 
or in the human body, but a woman of this neigh- 
bourhood would whip out the name of it, fair and 
square, by way of conversational adornment. My 
landlady, who was pretty and young, dressed like 
a lady and avoided patois like a weakness, commonly 
addressed her child in the language of a drunken 
bully. And of all the swearers that I ever heard, 
commend me to an old lady in Gondet, a village 
of the Loire. I was making a sketch, and her curse 
was not yet ended when I had finished it and took 
my departure. It is true she had a right to be 
angry ; for here was her son, a hulking fellow, 
visibly the worse for drink before the day was well 
begun. But it was strange to hear her unwearying 
flow of oaths and obscenities, endless like a river, 
and now and then rising to a passionate shrillness, 
in the clear and silent air of the morning. In city 
226 



A MOUNTAIN TOWN IN FRANCE 

slums, the thing might have passed unnoticed ; but 
in a country valley, and from a plain and honest 
countrywoman, this beastliness of speech surprised 
the ear. 

The Conductor, as he is called, of Roads and 
Bridges was my principal companion. He was 
generally intelligent, and could have spoken more 
or less falsetto on any of the trite topics ; but it 
was his specialty to have a generous taste in eating. 
This was what was most indigenous in the man ; 
it was here he was an artist; and I found in his 
company what I had long suspected, that enthusiasm 
and special knowledge are the great social qualities, 
and what they are about, whether white sauce or 
Shakespeare's plays, an altogether secondary question. 

I used to accompany the Conductor on his profes- 
sional rounds, and grew to believe myself an expert 
in the business. I thought 1 could make an entry 
in a stonebreaker's time-book, or order manure off 
the wayside with any living engineer in France. 
Gondet was one of the places we visited together ; 
and Laussonne, where I met the apothecary's father, 
was another. There, at Laussonne, George Sand 
spent a day while she was gathering materials for 
the Marquis de Villemer\ and I have spoken with 
an old man, who was then a child running about the 
inn kitchen, and who still remembers her with a sort 
of reverence. It appears that he spoke French im- 
perfectly; for this reason George Sand chose him 
for companion, and whenever he let slip a broad and 
picturesque phrase in patois, she would make him 

227 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

repeat it again and again till it was graven in her 
memory. The word for a frog particularly pleased 
her fancy ; and it would be curious to know if she 
afterwards employed it in her works. The peasants, 
who knew nothing of letters and had never so much 
as heard of local colour, could not explain her chat- 
tering with this backward child ; and to them she 
seemed a very homely lady and far from beautiful : 
the most famous man-killer of the age appealed so 
little to Velaisian swine-herds ! 

On my first engineering excursion, which lay up 
by Crouzials towards Mount Mezenc and the borders 
of Ardeche, I began an improving acquaintance with 
the foreman road-mender. He was in great glee at 
having me with him, passed me off among his sub- 
alterns as the supervising engineer, and insisted on 
what he called * the gallantry ' of paying for my 
breakfast in a roadside wine-shop. On the whole, 
he was a man of great weather- wisdom, some spirits 
and a social temper. But I am afraid he was super- 
stitious. When he was nine years old, he had seen 
one night a company of bourgeois et dames qui 
faisaient la manege avec des chaises, and concluded 
that he was in the presence of a witches' Sabbath. 
I suppose, but venture with timidity on the sug- 
gestion, that this may have been a romantic and 
nocturnal picnic party. Again, coming from Pradelles 
with his brother, they saw a great empty cart drawn 
by six enormous horses before them on the road. 
The driver cried aloud and filled the mountains with 
the cracking of his whip. He never seemed to go 
228 



A MOUNTAIN TOWN IN FRANCE 

faster than a walk, yet it was impossible to overtake 
him ; and at length, at the corner of a hill, the whole 
equipage disappeared bodily into the night. At the 
time, people said it was the devil qui s'amusait a 
faire fa. 

I suggested there was nothing more likely, as he 
must have some amusement. 

The foreman said it was odd, but there was less 
of that sort of thing than formerly. ' Cest difficile,' 
he added, '« expliquer.' 

When we were well up on the moors and the 
Conductor was trying some road-metal with the 
gauge— 

' Hark ! ' said the foreman, 'do you hear nothing? ' 

We listened, and the wind, which was blowing 
chilly out of the east, brought a faint, tangled 
jangling to our ears. 

' It is the flocks of Vivarais,' said he. 

For every summer, the flocks out of all Ardeche 
are brought up to pasture on these grassy plateaux. 

Here and there a little private flock was being 
tended by a girl, one spinning with a distaff, another 
seated on a wall and intently making lace. This 
last, when we addressed her, leaped up in a panic 
and put out her arms, like a person swimming, to 
keep us at a distance, and it was some seconds 
before we could persuade her of the honesty of our 
intentions. 

The Conductor told me of another herdswoman 
from whom he had once asked his road while he 
was yet new to the country, and who fled from him, 

229 



ESSAYS OF THE ROAD, ETC. 

driving her beasts before her, until he had given up 
the information in despair. A tale of old lawlessness 
may yet be read in these uncouth timidities. 

The winter in these uplands is a dangerous and 
melancholy time. Houses are snowed up, and way- 
farers lost in a flurry within hail of their own fireside. 
No man ventures abroad without meat and a bottle 
of wine, which he replenishes at every wine-shop ; 
and even thus equipped he takes the road with 
terror. All day the family sits about the fire in a 
foul and airless hovel, and equally without work or 
diversion. The father may carve a rude piece of 
furniture, but that is all that will be done until the 
spring sets in again, and along with it the labours of 
the field. It is not for nothing that you find a clock 
in the meanest of these mountain habitations. A 
clock and an almanac, you would fancy, were indis- 
pensable in such a life. . . . 



230 



V 

CRITICISMS 



Originally published : 

I. Fortnightly Review, June 1874. 
11. Academy, April 15, 1876. 
in. Magazine of Art, April 1882. 

The cuts which originally illustrated 
No. in. have been kindly lent by 
Messrs. Cassell and Co., with the 

permission of Mr. Robert Bagster, 

for use in this edition. 



CRITICISMS 



LORD LYTTON'S 'FABLES IN SONG 1 

It seems as if Lord Lytton, in this new book of 
his, had found the form most natural to his talent. 
In some ways, indeed, it may be held inferior to 
* Chronicles and Characters ' ; we look in vain for 
anything like the terrible intensity of the night-scene 
in ' Irene,' or for any such passages of massive and 
memorable writing as appeared, here and there, in 
the earlier work, and made it not altogether un- 
worthy of its model, Hugo's ' Legend of the Ages. ' 
But it becomes evident, on the most hasty retro- 
spect, that this earlier work was a step on the way 
towards the later. It seems as if the author had 
been feeling about for his definite medium, and was 
already, in the language of the child's game, growing 
hot. There are many pieces in 'Chronicles and 
Characters ' that might be detached from their 
original setting, and embodied, as they stand, among 
the 'Fables in Song.' 

For the term Fable is not very easy to define 

*33 



CRITICISMS 

rigorously. In the most typical form some moral 
precept is set forth by means of a conception purely 
fantastic, and usually somewhat trivial into the 
bargain ; there is something playful about it, that 
will not support a very exacting criticism, and the 
lesson must be apprehended by the fancy at half a 
hint. Such is the great mass of the old stories of 
wise animals or foolish men that have amused our 
childhood. But we should expect the fable, in 
company with other and more important literary 
forms, to be more and more loosely, or at least 
largely, comprehended as time went on, and so to 
degenerate in conception from this original type. 
That depended for much of its piquancy on the 
very fact that it was fantastic : the point of the 
thing lay in a sort of humorous inappropriateness ; 
and it is natural enough that pleasantry of this 
description should become less common, as men 
learn to suspect some serious analogy underneath. 
Thus a comical story of an ape touches us quite 
differently after the proposition of Mr. Darwin's 
theory. Moreover there lay, perhaps, at the bottom 
of this primitive sort of fable, a humanity, a tender- 
ness of rough truths ; so that at the end of some 
story, in which vice or folly had met with its des- 
tined punishment, the fabulist might be able to 
assure his auditors, as we have often to assure 
tearful children on the like occasions, that they 
may dry their eyes, for none of it was true. 

But this benefit of fiction becomes lost with 
more sophisticated hearers and authors : a man is 
234 



LORD LYTTON'S FABLES 

no longer the dupe of his own artifice, and cannot 
deal playfully with truths that are a matter of 
bitter concern to him in his life. And hence, in 
the progressive centralisation of modern thought, we 
should expect the old form of fable to fall gradually 
into desuetude, and be gradually succeeded by 
another, which is a fable in all points except that 
it is not altogether fabulous. And this new form, 
such as we should expect, and such as we do indeed 
find, still presents the essential character of brevity ; 
as in any other fable also, there is, underlying and 
animating the brief action, a moral idea ; and as in 
any other fable, the object is to bring this home to 
the reader through the intellect rather than through 
the feelings ; so that, without being very deeply 
moved or interested by the characters of the piece, 
we should recognise vividly the hinges on which the 
little plot revolves. But the fabulist now seeks 
analogies where before he merely sought humorous 
situations. There will be now a logical nexus 
between the moral expressed and the machinery 
employed to express it. The machinery, in fact, 
as this change is developed, becomes less and less 
fabulous. We find ourselves in presence of quite 
a serious, if quite a miniature division of creative 
literature; and sometimes we have the lesson em- 
bodied in a sober, everyday narration, as in the 
parables of the New Testament, and sometimes 
merely the statement or, at most, the collocation 
of significant facts in life, the reader being left to 
resolve for himself the vague, troublesome, and not 

235 



CRITICISMS 

yet definitely moral sentiment which has been thus 
created. And step by step with the development 
of this change, yet another is developed : the moral 
tends to become more indeterminate and large. It 
ceases to be possible to append it, in a tag, to the 
bottom of the piece, as one might write the name 
below a caricature ; and the fable begins to take 
rank with all other forms of creative literature, as 
something too ambitious, in spite of its miniature 
dimensions, to be resumed in any succinct formula 
without the loss of all that is deepest and most 
suggestive in it. 

Now it is in this widest sense that Lord Lytton 
understands the term ; there are examples in his 
two pleasant volumes of all the forms already men- 
tioned, and even of another which can only be 
admitted among fables by the utmost possible 
leniency of construction. 'Composure,' 'Et Caetera,' 
and several more, are merely similes poetically 
elaborated. So, too, is the pathetic story of the 
grandfather and grandchild : the child, having trea- 
sured away an icicle and forgotten it for ten minutes, 
comes back to find it already nearly melted, and no 
longer beautiful : at the same time, the grandfather 
has just remembered and taken out a bundle of love- 
letters, which he too had stored away in years gone 
by, and then long neglected ; and, behold ! the 
letters are as faded and sorrowfully disappointing 
as the icicle. This is merely a simile poetically 
worked out ; and yet it is in such as these, and some 
others, to be mentioned further on, that the author 
236 



LORD LYTTON'S FABLES 

seems at his best. Wherever he has really written 
after the old model, there is something to be depre- 
cated : in spite of all the spirit and freshness, in spite 
of his happy assumption of that cheerful acceptation 
of things as they are, which, rightly or wrongly, we 
come to attribute to the ideal fabulist, there is ever 
a sense as of something a little out of place. A 
form of literature so very innocent and primitive 
looks a little over-written in Lord Lytton's con- 
scious and highly- coloured style. It may be bad 
taste, but sometimes we should prefer a few sen- 
tences of plain prose narration, and a little Bewick 
by way of tail-piece. So that it is not among 
those fables that conform most nearly to the old 
model, but one had nearly said among those that 
most widely differ from it, that we find the most 
satisfactory examples of the author's manner. 

In the mere matter of ingenuity, the metaphysical 
fables are the most remarkable ; such as that of the 
windmill who imagined that it was he who raised 
the wind; or that of the grocer's balance ('Cogito 
ergo sum') who considered himself endowed with 
free-will, reason, and an infallible practical judg- 
ment ; until, one fine day, the police made a descent 
upon the shop, and find the weights false and the 
scales unequal; and the whole thing is broken up 
for old iron. Capital fables, also-, in the same 
ironical spirit, are ' Prometheus Unbound,' the tale 
of the vainglorying of a champagne-cork, and 
* Teleology,' where a nettle justifies the ways of 
God to nettles while all goes well with it, and, 

237 



CRITICISMS 

upon a change of luck, promptly changes its 
divinity. 

In all these there is still plenty of the fabulous if 
you will, although, even here, there may be two 
opinions possible ; but there is another group, of an 
order of merit perhaps still higher, where we look 
in vain for any such playful liberties with Nature. 
Thus we have ' Conservation of Force ' ; where a 
musician, thinking of a certain picture, improvises 
in the twilight; a poet, hearing the music, goes 
home inspired, and writes a poem; and then a 
painter, under the influence of this poem, paints 
another picture, thus lineally descended from the 
first. This is fiction, but not what we have been 
used to call fable. We miss the incredible element, 
the point of audacity with which the fabulist was 
wont to mock at his readers. And still more so is 
this the case with others. * The Horse and the 
Fly' states one of the unanswerable problems of 
life in quite a realistic and straightforward way. A 
fly startles a cab-horse, the coach is overset; a 
newly-married pair within and the driver, a man 
with a wife and family, are all killed. The horse con- 
tinues to gallop off in the loose traces, and ends the 
tragedy by running over an only child ; and there is 
some little pathetic detail here introduced in the 
telling, that makes the reader's indignation very 
white-hot against some one. It remains to be seen 
who that some one is to be : the fly ? Nay, but 
on closer inspection, it appears that the fly, actuated 
by maternal instinct, was only seeking a place for 
238 



LORD LYTTON'S FABLES 

her eggs : is maternal instinct, then, ' sole author of 
these mischiefs all ' ? ' Who 's in the Right ? ' one 
of the best fables in the book, is somewhat in the 
same vein. After a battle has been won, a group 
of officers assemble inside a battery, and debate 
together who should have the honour of the suc- 
cess : the Prince, the general staff, the cavalry, the 
engineer who posted the battery in which they then 
stand talking, are successively named : the sergeant, 
who pointed the guns, sneers to himself at the 
mention of the engineer ; and, close by, the gunner, 
who had applied the match, passes away with a 
smile of triumph, since it was through his hand that 
the victorious blow had been dealt. Meanwhile, the 
cannon claims the honour over the gunner; the 
cannon-ball, who actually goes forth on the dread 
mission, claims it over the cannon, who remains 
idly behind ; the powder reminds the cannon-ball 
that, but for him, it would still be lying on the 
arsenal floor ; and the match caps the discussion : 
powder, cannon-ball, and cannon would be all 
equally vain and ineffectual without fire. Just then 
there comes on a shower of rain, which wets the 
powder and puts out the match, and completes this 
lesson of dependence, by indicating the negative con- 
ditions which are as necessary for any effect, in their 
absence, as is the presence of this great fraternity 
of positive conditions, not any one of which can 
claim priority over any other. But the fable does 
not end here, as perhaps, in all logical strictness, it 
should. It wanders off into a discussion as to which 

239 



CRITICISMS 

is the truer greatness, that of the vanquished fire or 
that of the victorious rain. And the speech of the 
rain is charming : 

' Lo, with my little drops I bless again 
And beautify the fields which thou didst blast ! 
Rend, wither, waste and ruin, what thou wilt, 
But call not Greatness what the Gods call Guilt. 
Blossoms and grass from blood in battle spilt, 
And poppied corn, I bring. 
'Mid mouldering Babels, to oblivion built, 
My violets spring. 

Little by little my small drops have strength 
To deck with green delights the grateful earth.' 

And so forth, not quite germane (it seems to me) to 
the matter in hand, but welcome for its own sake. 

Best of all are the fables that deal more imme- 
diately with the emotions. There is, for instance, 
that of ' The Two Travellers,' which is profoundly 
moving in conception, although by no means as well 
written as some others. In this, one of the two, 
fearfully frost-bitten, saves his life out of the snow 
at the cost of all that was comely in his body ; just 
as, long before, the other, who has now quietly 
resigned himself to death, had violently freed him- 
self from Love at the cost of all that was finest and 
fairest in his character. Very graceful and sweet is 
the fable (if so it should be called) in which the 
author sings the praises of that 'kindly perspective,' 
which lets a wheat-stalk near the eye cover twenty 
leagues of distant country, and makes the humble 
circle about a man's hearth more to him than all the 
240 



LORD LYTTONS FABLES 

possibilities of the external world. The companion 
fable to this is also excellent. It tells us of a man 
who had, all his life through, entertained a passion 
for certain blue hills on the far horizon, and had 
promised himself to travel thither ere he died, and 
become familiar with these distant friends. At last, 
in some political trouble, he is banished to the very 
place of his dreams. He arrives there overnight, 
and, when he rises and goes forth in the morning, 
there sure enough are the blue hills, only now they 
have changed places with him, and smile across to 
him, distant as ever, from the old home whence 
he has come. Such a story might have been very 
cynically treated ; but it is not so done, the whole 
tone is kindly and consolatory, and the disenchanted 
man submissively takes the lesson, and understands 
that things far away are to be loved for their own 
sake, and that the unattainable is not truly un- 
attainable, when we can make the beauty of it our 
own. Indeed, throughout all these two volumes, 
though there is much practical scepticism, and much 
irony on abstract questions, this kindly and consola- 
tory spirit is never absent. There is much that is 
cheerful and, after a sedate, fireside fashion, hopeful. 
No one will be discouraged by reading the book ; 
but the ground of all this hopefulness and cheerful- 
ness remains to the end somewhat vague. It does 
not seem to arise from any practical belief in the 
future either of the individual or the race, but rather 
from the profound personal contentment of the 
writer. This is, I suppose, all we must look for 

21— Q 24I 



CRITICISMS 

in the case. It is as much as we can expect, if the 
fabulist shall prove a shrewd and cheerful fellow- 
wayfarer, one with whom the world does not seem 
to have gone much amiss, but who has yet laugh- 
ingly learned something of its evil. It will depend 
much, of course, upon our own character and 
circumstances, whether the encounter will be agree- 
able and bracing to the spirits, or offend us as an 
ill-timed mockery. But where, as here, there is a 
little tincture of bitterness along with the good- 
nature, where it is plainly not the humour of a 
man cheerfully ignorant, but of one who looks on, 
tolerant and superior and smilingly attentive, upon 
the good and bad of our existence, it will go hardly 
if we do not catch some reflection of the same spirit 
to help us on our way. There is here no im- 
pertinent and lying proclamation of peace — none 
of the cheap optimism of the well-to-do ; what we 
find here is a view of life that would be even 
grievous, were it not enlivened with this abiding 
cheerfulness, and ever and anon redeemed by a 
stroke of pathos. 

It is natural enough, I suppose, that we should 
find wanting in this book some of the intenser 
qualities of the author's work ; and their absence is 
made up for by much happy description after a 
quieter fashion. The burst of jubilation over the 
departure of the snow, which forms the prelude to 
' The Thistle,' is full of spirit and of pleasant images. 
The speech of the forest in ' Sans Souci ' is inspired by 
a beautiful sentiment for nature of the modern sort, 
242 



LORD LYTTON'S FABLES 

and pleases us more, I think, as poetry should please 
us, than anything in 'Chronicles and Characters.' 
There are some admirable felicities of expression 
here and there ; as that of the hill, whose summit 

' Did print 
The azure air with pines.' 

Moreover, I do not recollect in the author's former 
work any symptom of that sympathetic treatment of 
still life, which is noticeable now and again in the 
fables; and perhaps most noticeably, when he sketches 
the burned letters as they hover along the gusty flue, 
'Thin, sable veils wherein a restless spark Yet 
trembled.' But the description is at its best when 
the subjects are unpleasant, or even grisly. There 
are a few capital lines in this key on the last spasm 
of the battle before alluded to. Surely nothing 
could be better, in its own way, than the fish in ' The 
Last Cruise of the Arrogant,' ' the shadowy, side- 
faced, silent things,' that come butting and staring 
with lidless eyes at the sunken steam-engine. And 
although, in yet another, we are told, pleasantly 
enough, how the water went down into the valleys, 
where it set itself gaily to saw wood, and on into 
the plains, where it would soberly carry grain to 
town ; yet the real strength of the fable is when it 
deals with the shut pool in which certain unfortunate 
raindrops are imprisoned among slugs and snails, 
and in the company of an old toad. The sodden 
contentment of the fallen acorn is strangely signi- 
ficant; and it is astonishing how unpleasantly we 

243 



CRITICISMS 

are startled by the appearance of her horrible lover, 
the maggot. 

And now for a last word, about the style. This 
is not easy to criticise. It is impossible to deny to 
it rapidity, spirit, and a full sound; the lines are 
never lame, and the sense is carried forward with an 
uninterrupted, impetuous rush. But it is not equal. 
After passages of really admirable versification, the 
author falls back upon a sort of loose, cavalry 
manner, not unlike the style of some of Mr. Brown- 
ing's minor pieces, and almost inseparable from 
wordiness, and an easy acceptation of somewhat 
cheap finish. There is nothing here of that com- 
pression which is the note of a really sovereign 
style. It is unfair, perhaps, to set a not remarkable 
passage from Lord Lytton side by side with one of 
the signal masterpieces of another, and a very per- 
fect poet; and yet it is interesting, when we see 
how the portraiture of a dog, detailed through thirty 
odd lines, is frittered down and finally almost lost in 
the mere laxity of the style, to compare it with the 
clear, simple, vigorous delineation that Burns, in 
four couplets, has given us of the ploughman's collie. 
It is interesting, at first, and then it becomes a little 
irritating ; for when we think of other passages so 
much more finished and adroit, we cannot help feel- 
ing, that with a little more ardour after perfection 
of form, criticism would have found nothing left for 
her to censure. A similar mark of precipitate work 
is the number of adjectives tumultuously heaped 
together, sometimes to help out the sense, and some- 
244 



LORD LYTTON'S FABLES 

times (as one cannot but suspect) to help out the 
sound of the verses. I do not believe, for instance, 
that Lord Lytton himself would defend the lines in 
which we are told how Laocoon ' Revealed to 
Roman crowds, now Christian grown, That Pagan 
anguish which, in Parian stone, the Rhodian artist,' 
and so on. It is not only that this is bad in itself ; 
but that it is unworthy of the company in which it 
is found ; that such verses should not have appeared 
with the name of a good versifier like Lord Lytton. 
We must take exception, also, in conclusion, to the 
excess of alliteration. Alliteration is so liable to be 
abused that we can scarcely be too sparing of it ; 
and yet it is a trick that seems to grow upon the 
author with years. It is a pity to see fine verses, 
such as some in * Demos,' absolutely spoiled by the 
recurrence of one wearisome consonant. 



ii 

SALVINPS MACBETH 

Salvini closed his short visit to Edinburgh by a 
performance of Macbeth. It was, perhaps, from 
a sentiment of local colour that he chose to play 
the Scottish usurper for the first time before Scots- 
men ; and the audience were not insensible of the 
privilege. Few things, indeed, can move a stronger 
interest than to see a great creation taking shape 
for the first time. If it is not purely artistic, the 
sentiment is surely human. And the thought that 

245 



CRITICISMS 

you are before all the world, and have the start of so 
many others as eager as yourself, at least keeps you 
in a more unbearable suspense before the curtain 
rises, if it does not enhance the delight with which 
you follow the performance and see the actor ' bend 
up each corporal agent ' to realise a masterpiece of 
a few hours' duration. With a player so variable as 
Salvini, who trusts to the feeling of the moment for 
so much detail, and who, night after night, does the 
same thing differently but always well, it can never 
be safe to pass judgment after a single hearing. 
And this is more particularly true of last week's 
Macbeth ; for the whole third act was marred by a 
grievously humorous misadventure. Several minutes 
too soon the ghost of Banquo joined the party, and, 
after having sat helpless a while at a table, was 
ignominiously withdrawn. Twice was this ghostly 
Jack-in-the-box obtruded on the stage before his 
time ; twice removed again ; and yet he showed 
so little hurry when he was really wanted, that, 
after an awkward pause, Macbeth had to begin his 
apostrophe to empty air. The arrival of the belated 
spectre in the middle, with a jerk that made him 
nod all over, was the last accident in the chapter, 
and worthily topped the whole. It may be imagined 
how lamely matters went throughout these cross 
purposes. 

In spite of this, and some other hitches, Salvini's 

Macbeth had an emphatic success. The creation is 

worthy of a place beside the same artist's Othello 

and Hamlet. It is the simplest and most un- 

246 



SALVINI'S MACBETH 

sympathetic of the three ; but the absence of the 
finer lineaments of Hamlet is redeemed by gusto, 
breadth, and a headlong unity. Salvini sees nothing 
great in Macbeth beyond the royalty of muscle, and 
that courage which comes of strong and copious 
circulation. The moral smallness of the man is 
insisted on from the first, in the shudder of un- 
controllable jealousy with which he sees Duncan 
embracing Banquo. He may have some northern 
poetry of speech, but he has not much logical under- 
standing. In his dealings with the supernatural 
powers he is like a savage with his fetich, trusting 
them beyond bounds while all goes well, and when- 
ever he is crossed, casting his belief aside and calling 
'fate into the list.' For his wife, he is little more 
than an agent, a frame of bone and sinew for her 
fiery spirit to command. The nature of his feeling 
towards her is rendered with a most precise and 
delicate touch. He always yields to the woman's 
fascination ; and yet his caresses (and we know how 
much meaning Salvini can give to a caress) are 
singularly hard and unloving. Sometimes he lays 
his hand on her as he might take hold of any one 
who happened to be nearest to him at a moment of 
excitement. Love has fallen out of this marriage 
by the way, 'and left a curious friendship. Only 
once — at the very moment when she is showing 
herself so little a woman and so much a high-spirited 
man — only once is he very deeply stirred towards 
her ; and that finds expression in the strange and 
horrible transport of admiration, doubly strange and 

247 



CRITICISMS 

horrible on Salvini's lips — * Bring forth men-children 
only!' 

The murder scene, as was to be expected, pleased 
the audience best. Macbeth 's voice, in the talk 
with his wife, was a thing not to be forgotten ; and 
when he spoke of his hangman's hands he seemed 
to have blood in his utterance. Never for a 
moment, even in the very article of the murder, 
does he possess his own soul. He is a man on 
wires. From first to last it is an exhibition of 
hideous cowardice. For, after all, it is not here, 
but in broad daylight, with the exhilaration of 
conflict, where he can assure himself at every blow 
he has the longest sword and the heaviest hand, 
that this man's physical bravery can keep him up ; 
he is an unwieldy ship, and needs plenty of way 
on before he will steer. 

In the banquet scene, while the first murderer 
gives account of what he has done, there comes 
a flash of truculent joy at the * twenty trenched 
gashes' on Banquo's head. Thus Macbeth makes 
welcome to his imagination those very details of 
physical horror which are so soon to turn sour in 
him. As he runs out to embrace these cruel cir- 
cumstances, as he seeks to realise to his mind's eye 
the reassuring spectacle of his dead enemy, he is 
dressing out the phantom to terrify himself; and 
his imagination, playing the part of justice, is to 
'commend to his own lips the ingredients of his 
poisoned chalice. ' With the recollection of Hamlet 
and his father's spirit still fresh upon him, and the 
248 



SALVINI'S MACBETH 

holy awe with which that good man encountered 
things not dreamt of in his philosophy, it was not 
possible to avoid looking for resemblances between 
the two apparitions and the two men haunted. 
But there are none to be found. Macbeth has a 
purely physical dislike for Banquo's spirit and the 
* twenty trenched gashes.' He is afraid of he knows 
not what. He is abject, and again blustering. In 
the end he so far forgets himself, his terror, and 
the nature of what is before him, that he rushes 
upon it as he would upon a man. When his wife 
tells him he needs repose, there is something really 
childish in the way he looks about the room, and, 
seeing nothing, with an expression of almost sensual 
relief, plucks up heart enough to go to bed. And 
what is the upshot of the visitation ? It is written 
in Shakespeare, but should be read with the com- 
mentary of Salvini's voice and expression : — ' O / 
siam neir opra ancor fanciulli? — ' We are yet but 
young in deed.' Circle below circle. He is looking 
with horrible satisfaction into the mouth of hell. 
There may still be a prick to-day; but to-morrow 
conscience will be dead, and he may move un- 
troubled in this element of blood. 

In the fifth act we see this lowest circle reached ; 
and it is Salvini's finest moment throughout the 
play. From the first he was admirably made up, 
and looked Macbeth to the full as perfectly as ever 
he looked Othello. From the first moment he 
steps upon the stage you can see this character is a 
creation to the fullest meaning of the phrase; for 

249 



CRITICISMS 

the man before you is a type you know well already. 
He arrives with Banquo on the heath, fair and 
red-bearded, sparing of gesture, full of pride and 
the sense of animal wellbeing, and satisfied after 
the battle like a beast who has eaten his fill. But 
in the fifth act there is a change. This is still the 
big, burly, fleshly, handsome-looking Thane ; here 
is still the same face which in the earlier acts could 
be superficially good-humoured and sometimes 
royally courteous. But now the atmosphere of 
blood, which pervades the whole tragedy, has 
entered into the man and subdued him to its own 
nature ; and an indescribable degradation, a slack- 
ness and pufnness, has overtaken his features. He 
has breathed the air of carnage, and supped full of 
horrors. Lady Macbeth complains of the smell 
of blood on her hand : Macbeth makes no complaint 
— he has ceased to notice it now ; but the same 
smell is in his nostrils. A contained fury and 
disgust possesses him. He taunts the messenger 
and the doctor as people would taunt their mortal 
enemies. And, indeed, as he knows right well, 
every one is his enemy now, except his wife. 
About her he questions the doctor with something 
like a last human anxiety ; and, in tones of grisly 
mystery, asks him if he can ' minister to a mind 
diseased.' When the news of her death is brought 
him, he is staggered and falls into a seat; but 
somehow it is not anything we can call grief that 
he displays. There had been two of them against 
God and man ; and now, when there is only one, it 
250 



SALVINI'S MACBETH 

makes perhaps less difference than he had expected. 
And so her death is not only an affliction, but one 
more disillusion ; and he redoubles in bitterness. 
The speech that follows, given with tragic cynicism 
in every word, is a dirge, not so much for her as 
for himself. From that time forth there is nothing 
human left in him, only 'the fiend of Scotland,' 
Macduff's 'hell-hound,' whom, with a stern glee, 
we see baited like a bear and hunted down like 
a wolf. He is inspired and set above fate by a 
demoniacal energy, a lust of wounds and slaughter. 
Even after he meets Macduff his courage does not 
fail ; but when he hears the Thane was not born 
of woman, all virtue goes out of him ; and though 
he speaks sounding words of defiance, the last 
combat is little better than a suicide. 

The whole performance is, as I said, so full of 
gusto and a headlong unity ; the personality of 
Macbeth is so sharp and powerful ; and within 
these somewhat narrow limits there is so much 
play and saliency that, so far as concerns Salvini 
himself, a third great success seems indubitable. 
Unfortunately, however, a great actor cannot fill 
more than a very small fraction of the boards ; and 
though Banquo's ghost will probably be more sea- 
sonable in his future apparitions, there are some more 
inherent difficulties in the piece. The company at 
large did not distinguish themselves. Macduff, to 
the huge delight of the gallery, out-Macduff'd the 
average ranter. The lady who filled the principal 
female part has done better on other occasions, but 

251 



CRITICISMS 

I fear she has not metal for what she tried last week. 
Not to succeed in the sleep-walking scene is to make 
a memorable failure. As it was given, it succeeded 
in being wrong in art without being true to nature. 

And there is yet another difficulty, happily easy 
to reform, which somewhat interfered with the 
success of the performance. At the end of the in- 
cantation scene the Italian translator has made 
Macbeth fall insensible upon the stage. This is 
a change of questionable propriety from a psycho- 
logical point of view ; while in point of view of 
effect it leaves the stage for some moments empty 
of all business. To remedy this, a bevy of green 
ballet-girls came forth and pointed their toes about 
the prostrate king. A dance of High Church 
curates, or a hornpipe by Mr. T. P. Cooke, would 
not be more out of the key ; though the gravity of 
a Scots audience was not to be overcome, and they 
merely expressed their disapprobation by a round of 
moderate hisses, a similar irruption of Christmas 
fairies would most likely convulse a London theatre 
from pit to gallery with inextinguishable laughter. 
It is, I am told, the Italian tradition ; but it is one 
more honoured in the breach than the observance. 
With the total disappearance of these damsels, with 
a stronger Lady Macbeth, and, if possible, with some 
compression of those scenes in which Salvini does 
not appear, and the spectator is left at the mercy 
of Macduffs and Duncans, the play would go twice 
as well, and we should be better able to follow 
and enjoy an admirable work of dramatic art. 
252 



PILGRIMS PROGRESS 

in 

BAGSTER'S 'PILGRIM'S PROGRESS' 

I have here before me an edition of the Pilgrim's 
Progress, bound in green, without a date, and 
described as 'illustrated by nearly three hundred 
engravings, and memoir of Bunyan.' On the out- 
side it is lettered ' Bagster's Illustrated Edition,' and 
after the author's apology, facing the first page of 
the tale, a folding pictorial ' Plan of the Road ' is 
marked as ' drawn by the late Mr. T. Conder,' and 
engraved by J. Basire. No further information is 
anywhere vouchsafed; perhaps the publishers had 
judged the work too unimportant; and we are still 
left ignorant whether or not we owe the woodcuts in 
the body of the volume to the same hand that drew 
the plan. It seems, however, more than probable. 
The literal particularity of mind which, in the map, 
laid down the flower-plots in the devil's garden, and 
carefully introduced the court-house in the town of 
Vanity, is closely paralleled in many of the cuts; 
and in both, the architecture of the buildings and 
the disposition of the gardens have a kindred and 
entirely English air. Whoever he was, the author 
of these wonderful little pictures may lay claim to 
be the best illustrator of Bunyan. 1 They are not 

1 The illustrator was, in fact, a lady, Miss Eunice Bagster, eldest 
daughter of the publisher, Samuel Bagster ; except in the case of the 
cuts depicting the fight with Apollyon, which were designed by her 
brother, Mr. Jonathan Bagster. The edition was published in 1845. 
I am indebted for this information to the kindness of Mr. Robert 
Bagster, the present managing director of the firm. — [Ed.] 

253 



CRITICISMS 

only good illustrations, like so many others ; but 
they are like so few, good illustrations of Bunyan. 
Their spirit, in defect and quality, is still the same 
as his own. The designer also has lain down and 
dreamed a dream, as literal, as quaint, and almost as 
apposite as Bunyan's ; and text and pictures make 
but the two sides of the same homespun yet impas- 
sioned story. To do justice to the designs, it will 
be necessary to say, for the hundredth time, a word 
or two about the masterpiece which they adorn. 

All allegories have a tendency to escape from the 
purpose of their creators ; and as the characters and 
incidents become more and more interesting in them- 
selves, the moral, which these were to show forth, 
falls more and more into neglect. An architect may 
command a wreath of vine-leaves round the cornice 
of a monument ; but if, as each leaf came from the 
chisel, it took proper life and fluttered freely on the 
wall, and if the vine grew, and the building were 
hidden over with foliage and fruit, the architect 
would stand in much the same situation as the writer 
of allegories. The Faery Queen was an allegory, I 
am willing to believe ; but it survives as an imagina- 
tive tale in incomparable verse. The case of Bunyan 
is widely different; and yet in this also Allegory, 
poor nymph, although never quite forgotten, is 
sometimes rudely thrust against the wall. Bunyan 
was fervently in earnest; with 'his fingers in his 
ears, he ran on,' straight for his mark. He tells us 
himself, in the conclusion to the first part, that he 
did not fear to raise a laugh; indeed, he feared 
254 



PILGRIM'S PROGRESS 

nothing, and said anything; and he was greatly 
served in this by a certain rustic privilege of his 
style, which, like the talk of strong uneducated men, 
when it does not impress by its force, still charms by 
its simplicity. The mere story and the allegorical 
design enjoyed perhaps his equal favour. He believed 
in both with an energy of faith that was capable of 
moving mountains. And we have to remark in him, 
not the parts where inspiration fails and is supplied 
by cold and merely decorative invention, but the 
parts where faith has grown to be credulity, and his 
characters become so real to him that he forgets the 
end of their creation. We can follow him step by 
step into the trap which he lays for himself by his 
own entire good faith and triumphant literality of 
vision, till the trap closes and shuts him in an incon- 
sistency. The allegories of the Interpreter and 
of the Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains are 
all actually performed, like stage-plays, before the 
pilgrims. The son of Mr. Great-grace visibly 
'tumbles hills about with his words.' Adam the 
First has his condemnation written visibly on his 
forehead, so that Faithful reads it. At the very 
instant the net closes round the pilgrims, ' the white 
robe falls from the black man's body.' Despair 
'getteth him a grievous crab-tree cudgel'; it was 
in * sunshiny weather ' that he had his fits ; and the 
birds in the grove about the House Beautiful, ' our 
country birds,' only sing their little pious verses ' at 
the spring, when the flowers appear and the sun 
shines warm.' 'I often,' says Piety, 'go out to hear 

255 



CRITICISMS 

them ; we also ofttimes keep them tame on our 
house.' The post between Beulah and the Celestial 
City sounds his horn, as you may yet hear in 
country places. Madam Bubble, that 'tall, comely 
dame, something of a swarthy complexion, in very 
pleasant attire, but old,' 'gives you a smile at the 
end of each sentence' — a real woman she; we all 
know her. Christiana dying ' gave Mr. Stand-fast a 
ring,' for no possible reason in the allegory, merely 
because the touch was human and affecting. Look 
at Great-heart, with his soldierly ways, garrison 
ways, as I had almost called them ; with his taste in 
weapons ; his delight in any that ' he found to be a 
man of his hands'; his chivalrous point of honour, 
letting Giant Maul get up again when he was down, 
a thing fairly flying in the teeth of the moral ; above 
all, with his language in the inimitable tale of Mr. 
Fearing : ' I thought I should have lost my man ' — 
'chicken-hearted' — 'at last he came in, and I will 
say that for my lord, he carried it wonderful lovingly 
to him.' This is no Independent minister; this is 
a stout, honest, big-busted ancient, adjusting his 
shoulder-belts, twirling his long moustaches as he 
speaks. Last and most remarkable, 'My sword,' 
says the dying Valiant-for-Truth, he in whom Great- 
heart delighted, ' my sword I give to him that shall 
succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and 
skill to him that can get iV And after this boast, 
more arrogantly unorthodox than was ever dreamed 
of by the rejected Ignorance, we are told that 'all 
the trumpets sounded for him on the other side. ' 
256 



PILGRIM'S PROGRESS 

In every page the book is stamped with the same 
energy of vision and the same energy of belief. The 
quality is equally and indifferently displayed in the 
spirit of the fighting, the tenderness of the pathos, 
the startling vigour and strangeness of the incidents, 
the natural strain of the conversations, and the 
humanity and charm of the characters. Trivial talk 
over a meal, the dying words of heroes, the delights 
of Beulah or the Celestial City, Apollyon and my 
Lord Hate-good, Great-heart, and Mr. Worldly 
Wiseman, all have been imagined with the same 
clearness, all written of with equal gusto and pre- 
cision, all created in the same mixed element, of 
simplicity that is almost comical, and art that, for 
its purpose, is faultless. 

It was in much the same spirit that our artist sat 
down to his drawings. He is by nature a Runyan 
of the pencil. He, too, will draw anything, from a 
butcher at work on a dead sheep, up to the courts of 
Heaven. ' A Lamb for Supper ' is the name of one 
of his designs, ' Their Glorious Entry ' of another. 
He has the same disregard for the ridiculous, and 
enjoys somewhat of the same privilege of style, so 
that we are pleased even when we laugh the most. 
He is literal to the verge of folly. If dust is to be 
raised from the unswept parlour, you may be sure it 
will ' fly abundantly ' in the picture. If Faithful is 
to lie * as dead ' before Moses, dead he shall lie with 
a warrant — dead and stiff like granite ; nay (and here 
the artist must enhance upon the symbolism of 
the author), it is with the identical stone tables of 
21— r 257 



CRITICISMS 

the law that Moses fells the sinner. Good and bad 
people, whom we at once distinguish in the text by 
their names, Hopeful, Honest, and Valiant-for-Truth 
on the one hand, as against By-ends, Sir Having 
Greedy, and the Lord Old-man on the other, are in 
these drawings as simply distinguished by their 
costume. Good people, when not armed cap-a-pie, 
wear a speckled tunic girt about the waist, and low 
hats, apparently of straw. Bad people swagger in 
tail-coats and chimney-pots, a few with knee-breeches, 
but the large majority in trousers, and for all the 
world like guests at a garden-party. Worldly- 
Wiseman alone, by some inexplicable quirk, stands 
before Christian in laced hat, embroidered waistcoat, 
and trunk-hose. But above all examples of this 
artist's intrepidity, commend me to the print entitled 
'Christian Finds it Deep.' 'A great darkness and 
horror,' says the text, have fallen on the pilgrim ; it 
is the comfortless deathbed with which Bun y an so 
strikingly concludes the sorrows and conflicts of his 
hero. How to represent this worthily the artist 
knew not ; and yet he was determined to represent 
it somehow. This was how he did : Hopeful is still 
shown to his neck above the water of death ; but 
Christian has bodily disappeared, and a blot of solid 
blackness indicates his place. 

As you continue to look at these pictures, about 
an inch square for the most part, sometimes printed 
three or more to the page, and each having a printed 
legend of its own, however trivial the event recorded, 
you will soon become aware of two things : first, 
258 



PILGRIM'S PROGRESS 

that the man can draw, and, second, that he pos- 
sesses the gift of an imagination. ' Obstinate reviles,' 
says the legend ; and you should see Obstinate 
reviling. ' He warily retraces his steps'; and there 
is Christian, posting through the plain, terror and 
speed in every muscle. ' Mercy yearns to go ' shows 
you a plain interior with packing going forward, and, 
right in the middle, Mercy yearning to go — every 
line of the girl's figure yearning. In ' The Chamber 
called Peace' we see a simple English room, bed 
with white curtains, window valance and door, as 
may be found in many thousand unpretentious 
houses ; but far off, through the open window, we 
behold the sun uprising out of a great plain, and 
Christian hails it with his hand : 

e Where am I now ! is this the love and care 
Of Jesus, for the men that pilgrims are ! 
Thus to provide ! That I should be forgiven ! 
And dwell already the next door to heaven ! ' 

A page or two further, from the top of the House 
Beautiful, the damsels point his gaze toward the 
Delectable Mountains : ' The Prospect,' so the cut 
is ticketed — and I shall be surprised, if on less than 
a square of paper you can show me one so wide 
and fair. Down a cross road on an English plain, 
a cathedral city outlined on the horizon, a hazel 
shaw upon the left, comes Madam Wanton dancing 
with her fair enchanted cup, and Faithful, book in 
hand, half pauses. The cut is perfect as a symbol i 
the giddy movement of the sorceress, the uncertain 

259 



CRITICISMS 

poise of the man struck to the heart by a tempta- 
tion, the contrast of that even plain of life whereon 
he journeys with the bold, ideal bearing of the 
wanton — the artist who invented and portrayed this 
had not merely read Bunyan, he had also thought- 
fully lived. The Delectable Mountains — I continue 
skimming the first part — are not on the whole 
happily rendered. Once, and once only, the note 
is struck, when Christian and Hopeful are seen 
coming, shoulder-high, through a thicket of green 
shrubs — box, perhaps, or perfumed nutmeg ; while be- 
hind them, domed or pointed, the hills stand ranged 
against the sky. A little further, and we come 
to that masterpiece of Bunyan's insight into life, 
the Enchanted Ground; where, in a few traits, 
he has set down the latter end of such a number 
of the would-be good ; where his allegory goes so 
deep that, to people looking seriously on life, it 
cuts like satire. The true significance of this in- 
vention lies, of course, far out of the way of 
drawing; only one feature, the great tedium of 
the land, the growing weariness in welldoing, may 
be somewhat represented in a symbol. The pilgrims 
are near the end : ' Two Miles Yet,' says the legend. 
The road goes ploughing up and down over a rolling 
heath ; the wayfarers, with outstretched arms, are 
already sunk to the knees over the brow of the 
nearest hill ; they have just passed a milestone with 
the cipher two ; from overhead a great, piled, 
summer cumulus, as of a slumberous summer after- 
noon, beshadows them : two miles ! it might be 
260 



PILGRIMS PROGRESS 

hundreds. In dealing with the Land of Beulah 
the artist lags, in both parts, miserably behind the 
text, but in the distant prospect of the Celestial 
City more than regains his own. You will re- 
member when Christian and Hopeful ' with desire 
fell sick. ' ' Effect of the Sunbeams ' is the artist's 
title. Against the sky, upon a cliffy mountain, the 
radiant temple beams upon them over deep, sub- 
jacent woods ; they, behind a mound, as if seeking 
shelter from the splendour — one prostrate on his 
face, one kneeling, and with hands ecstatically lifted 
— yearn with passion after that immortal city. 
Turn the page, and we behold them walking by 
the very shores of death ; Heaven, from this nigher 
view, has risen half-way to the zenith, and sheds 
a wider glory ; and the two pilgrims, dark against 
that brightness, walk and sing out of the fulness of 
their hearts. No cut more thoroughly illustrates 
at once the merit and the weakness of the artist. 
Each pilgrim sings with a book in his grasp — a 
family Bible at the least for bigness ; tomes so 
recklessly enormous that our second impulse is to 
laughter. And yet that is not the first thought, 
nor perhaps the last. Something in the attitude of 
the manikins — faces they have none, they are too 
small for that — something in the way they swing these 
monstrous volumes to their singing, something per- 
haps borrowed from the text, some subtle differentia- 
tion from the cut that went before and the cut that 
follows after — something, at least, speaks clearly of 
a fearful joy, of Heaven seen from the deathbed, 

261 



CRITICISMS 

of the horror of the last passage no less than of the 
glorious coming home. There is that in the action 
of one of them which always reminds me, with a 
difference, of that haunting last glimpse of Thomas 
Idle, travelling to Tyburn in the cart. Next come 
the Shining Ones, wooden and trivial enough ; the 
pilgrims pass into the river ; the blot already men- 
tioned settles over and obliterates Christian. In 
two more cuts we behold them drawing nearer to 
the other shore ; and then, between two radiant 
angels, one of whom points upward, we see them 
mounting in new weeds, their former lendings left 
behind them on the inky river. More angels meet 
them ; Heaven is displayed, and if no better, 
certainly no worse, than it has been shown by 
others — a place, at least, infinitely populous and 
glorious with light — a place that haunts solemnly 
the hearts of children. And then this symbolic 
draughtsman once more strikes into his proper vein. 
Three cuts conclude the first part. In the first the 
gates close, black against the glory struggling from 
within. The second shows us Ignorance — alas ! 
poor Arminian ! — hailing, in a sad twilight, the 
ferryman Vain-Hope ; and in the third we behold 
him, bound hand and foot, and black already 
with the hue of his eternal fate, carried high over 
the mountain-tops of the world by two angels of the 
anger of the Lord. ' Carried to Another Place,' the 
artist enigmatically names his plate — a terrible design. 
Wherever he touches on the black side of the 
supernatural his pencil grows more daring and 
262 



PILGRIM'S PROGRESS 

incisive. He has many true inventions in the 
perilous and diabolic ; he has many startling night- 
mares realised. It is not easy to select the best ; 
some may like one and some another ; the nude, 
depilated devil bounding and casting darts against 
the Wicket Gate ; the scroll of flying horrors that 
hang over Christian by the Mouth of Hell ; the 
horned shade that comes behind him whispering 
blasphemies ; the daylight breaking through that 
rent cave-mouth of the mountains and falling chill 
adown the haunted tunnel ; Christian's further pro- 
gress along the causeway, between the two black 
pools, where, at every yard or two, a gin, a pitfall, 
or a snare awaits the passer-by — loathsome white 
devilkins harbouring close under the bank to work 
the springes, Christian himself pausing and pricking 
with his sword's point at the nearest noose, and pale 
discomfortable mountains rising on the farther side ; 
or yet again, the two ill-favoured ones that beset 
the first of Christian's journey, with the frog-like 
structure of the skull, the frog-like limberness 
of limbs — crafty, slippery, lustful-looking devils, 
drawn always in outline as though possessed of a 
dim, infernal luminosity. Horrid fellows are they, 
one and all ; horrid fellows and horrific scenes. 
In another spirit that Good-Conscience 'to whom 
Mr. Honest had spoken in his lifetime,' a cowled, 
grey, awful figure, one hand pointing to the heavenly 
shore, realises, I will not say all, but some at least 
of the strange impressiveness of Bunyan's words. 
It is no easy nor pleasant thing to speak in one's 

263 



CRITICISMS 

lifetime with Good-Conscience ; he is an austere, 
unearthly friend, whom maybe Torquemada knew ; 
and the folds of his raiment are not merely claustral, 
but have something of the horror of the pall. Be 
not afraid, however ; with the hand of that appear- 
ance Mr. Honest will get safe across. 

Yet perhaps it is in sequences that this artist best 
displays himself. He loves to look at either side of 
a thing : as, for instance, when he shows us both 
sides of the wall — ' Grace Inextinguishable ' on the 
one side, with the devil vainly pouring buckets on 
the flame, and 'The Oil of Grace' on the other, 
where the Holy Spirit, vessel in hand, still secretly 
supplies the fire. He loves, also, to show us the 
same event twice over, and to repeat his in- 
stantaneous photographs at the interval of but a 
moment. So we have, first, the whole troop of 
Pilgrims coming up to Valiant, and Great-heart 
to the front, spear in hand and parleying; and 
next, the same cross-roads, from a more distant 
view, the convoy now scattered and looking safely 
and curiously on, and Valiant handing over for in- 
spection his ' right Jerusalem blade.' It is true that 
this designer has no great care after consistency : 
Apollyon's spear is laid by, his quiver of darts will 
disappear, whenever they might hinder the designer's 
freedom ; and the fiend's tail is blobbed or forked at 
his good pleasure. But this is not unsuitable to the 
illustration of the fervent Bunyan, breathing hurry 
and momentary inspiration. He, with his hot 
purpose, hunting sinners with a lasso, shall himself 
264 





Obstinate reviles 



Mr. Worldly-Wiseman 



tmJuA 





He warily retraces his 



Christian at the gate 





The parlour unswept 



The chamber called Peace 





Is met by Apollyon 




The fiend in discourse 



The conflict 





Close combat 



The deadly thrust 





Thanksgiving for victory 



His last weapon — All-prayer 







Whispering blasphemies 



Snares, traps, gins, and pitfalls 




Madam Wanton 




&$m\\w/4. 





Effect of the sunbeams 



Carried to another place 



PILGRIMS PROGRESS 

forget the things that he has written yesterday. He 
shall first slay Heedless in the Valley of the Shadow, 
and then take leave of him talking in his sleep, 
as if nothing had happened, in an arbour on the 
Enchanted Ground. And again, in his rhymed 
prologue, he shall assign some of the glory of the 
siege of Doubting Castle to his favourite Valiant- 
for-the-Truth, who did not meet with the besiegers 
till long after, at that dangerous corner by Dead- 
man's Lane. And, with all inconsistencies and 
freedoms, there is a power shown in these sequences 
of cuts : a power of joining on one action or one 
humour to another; a power of following out the 
moods, even of the dismal subterhuman fiends en- 
gendered by the artist's fancy ; a power of sustained 
continuous realisation, step by step, in nature's 
order, that can tell a story, in all its ins and outs, 
its pauses and surprises, fully and figuratively, like 
the art of words. 

One such sequence is the fight of Christian and 
Apollyon — six cuts, weird and fiery, like the text. 
The pilgrim is throughout a pale and stockish figure; 
but the devil covers a multitude of defects. There 
is no better devil of the conventional order than 
our artist's Apollyon, with his mane, his wings, his 
bestial legs, his changing and terrifying expression, 
his infernal energy to slay. In cut the first you see 
him afar off, still obscure in form, but already for- 
midable in suggestion. Cut the second, ' The Fiend 
in Discourse,' represents him, not reasoning, railing 
rather, shaking his spear at the pilgrim, his shoulder 

265 



CRITICISMS 

advanced, his tail writhing in the air, his foot ready 
for a spring, while Christian stands back a little, 
timidly defensive. The third illustrates these mag- 
nificent words : ' Then Apollyon straddled quite 
over the whole breadth of the way, and said, I am 
void of fear in this matter : prepare thyself to die ; 
for I swear by my infernal den that thou shalt go 
no farther : here will I spill thy soul ! And with 
that he threw a flaming dart at his breast.' In the 
cut he throws a dart with either hand, belching 
pointed flames out of his mouth, spreading his broad 
vans, and straddling the while across the path, as 
only a fiend can straddle who has just sworn by his 
infernal den. The defence will not be long against 
such vice, such flames, such red-hot nether energy. 
And in the fourth cut, to be sure, he has leaped 
bodily upon his victim, sped by foot and pinion, and 
roaring as he leaps. The fifth shows the climacteric 
of the battle ; Christian has reached nimbly out and 
got his sword, and dealt that deadly home-thrust, 
the fiend still stretched upon him, but ' giving back, 
as one that had received his mortal wound.' The 
raised head, the bellowing mouth, the paw clapped 
upon the sword, the one wing relaxed in agony, all 
realise vividly these words of the text. In the sixth 
and last, the trivial armed figure of the pilgrim is 
seen kneeling with clasped hands on the betrodden 
scene of contest and among the shivers of the darts ; 
while just at the margin the hinder quarters and 
the tail of Apollyon are whisking off, indignant and 
discomfited. 
266 



PILGRIM'S PROGRESS 

In one point only do these pictures seem to be 
unworthy of the text, and that point is one rather 
of the difference of arts than the difference of artists. 
Throughout his best and worst, in his highest and 
most divine imaginations as in the narrowest sallies 
of his sectarianism, the human-hearted piety of 
Bunyan touches and ennobles, convinces, accuses 
the reader. Through no art beside the art of words 
can the kindness of a man's affections be expressed. 
In the cuts you shall find faithfully parodied the 
quaintness and the power, the triviality and the 
surprising freshness of the author's fancy ; there you 
shall find him outstripped in ready symbolism and 
the art of bringing things essentially invisible before 
the eyes : but to feel the contact of essential good- 
ness, to be made in love with piety, the book must 
be read and not the prints examined. 

Farewell should not be taken with a grudge ; nor 
can I dismiss in any other words than those of grati- 
tude a series of pictures which have, to one at least, 
been the visible embodiment of Bunyan from child- 
hood up, and shown him, through all his years, 
Great-heart lungeing at Giant Maul, and Apollyon 
breathing fire at Christian, and every turn and town 
along the road to the Celestial City, and that bright 
place itself, seen as to a stave of music, shining afar 
off upon the hill- top, the candle of the world. 



267 



VI 

LETTER TO THE CLERGY 

OF THE 
CHURCH OF SCOTLAND 



Originally published as a pamphlet by W. Blackwood and Sons, 
Edinburgh and London, 1875 



AN APPEAL TO THE CLERGY OF 
THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND 

WITH A NOTE FOR THE LAITY 

* Had I a strong voice, as it is the weakest alive, yea, could I lift it up 
as a trumpet, I would sound a retreat from our unnatural contentions, 
and irreligious strivings for religion.' — Archbishop Leighton, 1669. 

Gentlemen, — The position of the Church of Scot- 
land is now one of considerable difficulty ; not only 
the credit of the Church, not only the credit of 
Christianity, but to some extent also that of the 
national character, is at stake. You have just gained 
a great victory, in spite of an opposition neither very 
logical nor very generous ; you have succeeded in 
effecting, by quiet constitutional processes, a great 
reform, which brings your Church somewhat nearer 
in character to what is required by your Dissenting 
brethren. It remains to be seen whether you can 
prove yourselves as generous as you have been wise 
and patient. And the position, as I say, is one of 
difficulty. Many, doubtless, left the Church for a 
reason which is now removed ; many have joined 
other sects who would rather have joined themselves 
with you, had you been then as you now are ; and 
for these you are bound to render as easy as may be 

271 



AN APPEAL 

the way of reconciliation, and show, by some notable 
action, the reality of your own desire for Peace. But 
I am not unaware that there are others, and those 
possibly a majority, who hold very different opinions 
— who regard the old quarrel as still competent, or 
have found some new reason for dissent ; and from 
these the Church, if she makes such an advance as 
she ought to make, in all loyalty and charity, may 
chance to meet that most sensible of insults — ridicule, 
in return for an honest offer of reconciliation. I am 
not unaware, also, that there is yet another ground 
of difficulty; and that those even who would be 
most ready to hold the cause of offence as now 
removed will find it hard to forget the past — will 
continue to think themselves unjustly used — will 
not be willing to come back, as though they were 
repentant offenders, among those who delayed the 
reform and quietly enjoyed their benefices, while 
they bore the heat and burthen of the day in a 
voluntary exile for the Truth's sake. 

In view of so many elements of difficulty, no 
intelligent person can be free from apprehension for 
the result; and you, gentlemen, may be perhaps 
more ready now to receive advice, to hear and 
weigh the opinion of one who is free, because he 
writes without name, than you would be at any 
juncture less critical. There is now a hope, at least, 
that some term may be put to our more clamorous 
dissensions. Those who are at all open to a feeling 
of national disgrace look eagerly forward to such 
a possibility ; they have been witnesses already too 
272 



TO THE CLERGY 

long to the strife that has divided this small corner 
of Christendom ; and they cannot remember without 
shame that there has been as much noise, as much 
recrimination, as much severance of friends, about 
mere logical abstractions in our remote island, as 
would have sufficed for the great dogmatic battles 
of the Continent. It would be difficult to exaggerate 
the pity that fills the heart at such a reflection ; at 
the thought of how this neck of barren hills between 
two inclement seaways has echoed for three centuries 
with the uproar of sectarian battle ; of how the east 
wind has carried out the sound of our shrill disputa- 
tions into the desolate Atlantic, and the west wind 
has borne it over the German Ocean, as though it 
would make all Europe privy to how well we Scot- 
tish brethren abide together in unity. It is not a 
bright page in the annals of a small country : it is 
not a pleasant commentary on the Christianity that 
we profess ; there is something in it pitiful, as I have 
said, for the pitiful man, but bitterly humorous for 
others. How much time we have lost, how much 
of the precious energy and patience of good men we 
have exhausted, on these trivial quarrels, it would 
be nauseous to consider ; we know too much already 
when we know the facts in block ; we know enough 
to make us hide our heads for shame, and grasp 
gladly at any present humiliation, if it would ensure 
a little more quiet, a little more charity, a little more 
brotherly love in the distant future. 

And it is with this before your eyes that, as I feel 
certain, you are now addressing yourselves to the 

21 — S 273 



AN APPEAL 

consideration of this important crisis. It is with 
a sense of the blackness of this discredit upon the 
national character and national Christianity that 
not you alone but many of other Churches are now 
setting themselves to square their future course with 
the exigencies of the new position of sects ; and it is 
with you that the responsibility remains. The obli- 
gation lies ever on the victor ; and just so surely as 
you have succeeded in the face of captious opposition 
in carrying forth the substance of a reform of which 
others had despaired, just as surely does it lie upon 
you as a duty to take such steps as shall make that 
reform available, not to you only, but to all your 
brethren who will consent to profit by it ; not only 
to all the clergy, but to the cause of decency and 
peace, throughout your native land. It is earnestly 
hoped that you may show yourselves worthy of a 
great opportunity, and do more for the public minds 
by the example of one act of generosity and humility 
than you could do by an infinite series of sermons. 

Without doubt, it is your intention, on the earliest 
public opportunity, to make some advance. Without 
doubt, it is your purpose to improve the advantage 
you have gained, and to press upon those who quitted 
your communion some thirty years ago your great 
desire to be once more united to them. This, at 
least, will find a place in the most unfriendly pro- 
gramme you can entertain ; and if there are any in 
the Free Church (as I doubt not there are some) who 
seceded, not so much from any dislike to the just 
supremacy of the law, as from a belief that the law 
274 



TO THE CLERGY 

in these ecclesiastical matters was applied unjustly, 
I know well that you will be most eager to receive 
them back again ; I know well that you will not 
let any petty vanity, any scruple of worldly dignity, 
stand between them and their honourable return. 
If, therefore, there were no more to be done than 
to display to these voluntary exiles the deep sense 
of your respect for their position, this appeal would 
be unnecessary, and you might be left to the guid- 
ance of your own good feeling. 

But it seems to me that there is need of something 
more ; it seems to me, and I think that it will seem 
so to you also, that you must go even further if you 
would be equal to the importance of the situation. 
If there are any among the Dissenters whose con- 
sciences are so far satisfied with the provisions of the 
recent Act that they could now return to your com- 
munion, to such, it must not be forgotten, you stand 
in a position of great delicacy. The conduct of these 
men you have so far justified ; you have tacitly 
admitted that there was some ground for dissatis- 
faction with the former condition of the Church ; 
and though you may still judge those to have been 
over-scrupulous who were moved by this imperfec- 
tion to secede, instead of waiting patiently with 
you until it could be remedied by peaceful means, 
you must not forget that it is the strong stomach, 
according to St. Paul, that is to consider the weak, 
and should come forward to meet these brethren 
with something better than compliments upon your 
lips. Observe, I speak only of those who would now 

275 



AN APPEAL 

see their way back to your communion with a clear 
conscience ; it is their conduct, and their conduct 
alone, that you have justified, and therefore it is 
only for them that your special generosity is here 
solicited. But towards them, if there are any such, 
your countrymen would desire to see you behave 
with all consideration. I do not pretend to lay 
before you any definite scheme of action ; I wish 
only to let you understand what thoughts are busy 
in the heads of some outside your councils, so that 
you may take this also into consideration when you 
come to decide. And this, roughly, is how it appears 
to these: These good men have exposed them- 
selves to the chance of hardship for the sake of their 
scruples, whilst you, being of a stronger stomach, 
continued to enjoy the security of national endow- 
ments. Some of you occupy the very livings which 
they resigned for conscience' sake. To others pre- 
ferment has fallen which would have fallen to them 
had they been still eligible. If, then, any of them 
are now content to return, you are bound, if not in 
justice, then in honour, to do all that you can to 
testify your respect for brave conviction, and to repair 
to them such losses as they may have suffered, 
whether for their first secession or their second. 
You owe a special duty, not only to the courage 
that left the Church, but to the wisdom and modera- 
tion that now returns to it. And your sense of 
this duty will find a vent not only in word but in 
action. You will facilitate their return not only by 
considerate and brotherly language, but by pecuniary 
276 



TO THE CLERGY 

aid ; you will seek, by some new endowment scheme, 
to preserve for them their ecclesiastical status. That 
they have no claim will be their strongest claim on 
your consideration. Many of you, if not all, will 
set apart some share out of your slender livings for 
their assistance and support ; you will give them 
what you can afford ; and you will say to them, as 
you do so, what I dare say to you, that what you 
give is theirs — not only in honour but in justice. 

For you know that the justice which should rule the 
dealings of Christians, how much more of Christian 
ministers, is not as the justice of courts of law or 
equity ; and those who profess the morality of Jesus 
Christ have abjured, in that profession, all that can 
be urged by policy or worldly prudence. From 
them we can accept no half-hearted and calculating 
generosity ; they must make haste to be liberal ; 
they must catch with eagerness at all opportunities 
of service, and the mere whisper of an obligation 
should be to them more potent than the decree of 
a court to others who make profession of a less 
stringent code. And remember that it lies with you 
to show to the world that Christianity is something 
more than a verbal system. In the lapse of genera- 
tions men grow weary of unsupported precept. They 
may wait long, and keep long in memory the bright 
doings of former days, but they will weary at the 
last ; they will begin to trouble you for your creden- 
tials ; if you cannot give them miracles, they will 
demand virtue; if you cannot heal the sick, they 
will call upon you for some practice of the Christian 

277 



AN APPEAL 

ethics. Thus people will knock often at a door if 
only it be opened to them now and again ; but if 
the door remains^ closed too long, they will judge the 
house uninhabited and go elsewhere. And thus it 
is that a season of persecution, constantly endured, 
revives the fainting confidence of the people, and 
some centuries of prosperity may prepare a Church 
for ruin. You have here at your hand an oppor- 
tunity to do more for the credit of your Christianity 
than ever you could do by visions, miracles, or pro- 
phecies. A sacrifice such as this would be better 
worth, as I said before, than many sermons ; and 
there is a disposition in mankind that would ennoble 
it beyond much that is more ostentatious ; for men, 
whether lay or clerical, suffer better the flame of the 
stake than a daily inconvenience or a pointed sneer, 
and will not readily be martyred without some 
external circumstance and a concourse looking on. 
And you need not fear that your virtue will be 
thrown away ; the people of Scotland will be quick 
to understand, in default of visible fire and halter, 
that you have done a brave action for Christianity 
and the national weal ; and if they are spared in the 
future any of the present ignoble jealousy of sect 
against sect, they will not forget that to that end 
you gave of your household comfort and stinted 
your children. Even if you fail — ay, and even if 
there were not found one to profit by your invita- 
tion — your virtue would still have its own reward. 
Your predecessors gave their lives for ends not 
always the most Christian ; they were tempted, 
278 



TO THE CLERGY 

and slain with the sword ; they wandered in deserts 
and in mountains, in caves and in dens of the earth. 
But your action will not be less illustrious ; what 
you may have to suffer may be a small thing if the 
world will, but it will have been suffered for the 
cause of peace and brotherly love. 

I have said that the people of Scotland will be 
quick to appreciate what you do. You know well 
that they will be quick also to follow your example. 
But the sign should come from you. It is more 
seemly that you should lead than follow in this 
matter. Your predecessors gave the word from 
their free pulpits which was to brace men for sec- 
tarian strife : it would be a pleasant sequel if the 
word came from you that was to bid them bury all 
jealousy, and forget the ugly and contentious past 
in a good hope of peace to come. 

What is said in these few pages may be objected 
to as vague ; it is no more vague than the position 
seemed to me to demand. Each man must judge 
for himself what it behoves him to do at this junc- 
ture, and the whole Church for herself. All that 
is intended in this appeal is to begin, in a tone of 
dignity and disinterestedness, the consideration of 
the question ; for when such matters are much 
pulled about in public prints, and have been often 
discussed from many different, and not always from 
very high, points of view, there is ever a tendency 
that the decision of the parties may contract some 
taint of meanness from the spirit of their critics. 
All that is desired is to press upon you, as ministers 

279 



AN APPEAL 

of the Church of Scotland, some sense of the high 
expectation with which your country looks to you 
at this time ; and how many reasons there are that 
you should show an example of signal disinterested- 
ness and zeal in the encouragement that you give 
to returning brethren. For, first, it lies with you to 
clear the Church from the discredit of our miserable 
contentions ; and surely you can never have a fairer 
opportunity to improve her claim to the style of a 
peacemaker. Again, it lies with you, as I have said, 
to take the first step, and prove your own true 
ardour for an honourable union ; and how else are 
you to prove it? It lies with you, moreover, to 
justify in the eyes of the world the time you have 
been enjoying your benefices, while these others 
have voluntarily shut themselves out from all par- 
ticipation in their convenience ; and how else are 
you to convince the world that there was not some- 
thing of selfishness in your motives? It lies with 
you, lastly, to keep your example unspotted before 
your congregations ; and I do not know how better 
you are to do that. 

It is never a thankful office to offer advice ; and 
advice is the more unpalatable, not only from the 
difficulty of the service recommended, but often 
from its very obviousness. We are fired with anger 
against those who make themselves the spokesmen 
of plain obligations ; for they seem to insult us as 
they advise. In the present case I should have 
feared to waken some such feeling, had it not been 
that I was addressing myself to a body of special 
280 



TO THE CLERGY 

men on a very special occasion. I know too much 
of the history of ideas to imagine that the senti- 
ments advocated in this appeal are peculiar to me 
and a few others. I am confident that your own 
minds are already busy with similar reflections. But 
I know at the same time how difficult it is for one 
man to speak to another in such a matter ; how he 
is withheld by all manner of personal considerations, 
and dare not propose what he has nearest his heart, 
because the other has a larger family or a smaller 
stipend, or is older, more venerable, and more con- 
scientious than himself; and it is in view of this that 
I have determined to profit by the freedom of an 
anonymous writer, and give utterance to what many 
of you would have uttered already, had they been 
(as I am) apart from the battle. It is easy to be 
virtuous when one's own convenience is not affected ; 
and it is no shame to any man to follow the advice 
of an outsider who owns that, while he sees which 
is the better part, he might not have the courage to 
profit himself by this opinion. 

[Note for the Laity] 

The foregoing pages have been in type since the 
beginning of last September. I have been advised 
to give them to the public ; and it is only necessary 
to add that nothing of all that has taken place since 
they were written has made me modify an opinion 
or so much as change a word. The question is not 
one that can be altered by circumstances. 

281 



NOTE FOR THE LAITY 

I need not tell the laity that with them this 
matter ultimately rests. Whether we regard it as 
a question of mere expense or as a question of good 
feeling against ill feeling, the solution must come 
from the Church members. The lay purse is the 
long one ; and if the lay opinion does not speak from 
so high a place, it speaks all the week through and 
with innumerable voices. Trumpets and captains 
are all very well in their way ; but if the trumpets 
were ever so clear, and the captains as bold as lions, 
it is still the army that must take the fort. 

The laymen of the Church have here a question 
before them, on the answering of which, as I still 
think, many others attend. If the Established 
Church could throw off its lethargy, and give the 
Dissenters some speaking token of its zeal for 
union, I still think that union, to some extent, 
would be the result. There is a motion tabled 
(as I suppose all know) for the next meeting of 
the General Assembly ; but something more than 
motions must be tabled, and something more must 
be given than votes. It lies practically with the 
laymen, by a new endowment scheme, to put the 
Church right with the world in two ways, so that 
those who left it more than thirty years ago, and 
who may now be willing to return, shall lose neither 
in money nor in ecclesiastical status. At the out- 
side, what will they have to do? They will have 
to do for (say) ten years what the laymen of the 
Free Church have done cheerfully ever since 1843. 

February 12th, 1876. 
282 



VII 

ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

WRITTEN AT VAILIMA 



Of these papers : 

No. i. was originally published in c The Idler,' 
August 1 894, and reprinted in ' My First Book ' 
(Chatto and Windus, 1894), a collection by various 
hands, edited by Mr. Jerome K. Jerome. 

Nos. 11. and in. were drafted in 1893 or 1894 
towards a projected new series of essays for 
' Scribner's Magazine,' and are here printed 
for the first time. 



All rights reserved. 
Copyright in the United States of America. 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS WRITTEN 
AT VAILIMA 

i 

MY FIRST BOOK— < TREASURE ISLAND' 

It was far indeed from being my first book, for I am 
not a novelist alone. But I am well aware that my 
paymaster, the Great Public, regards what else I 
have written with indifference, if not aversion ; if it 
call upon me at all, it calls on me in the familiar and 
indelible character ; and when I am asked to talk of 
my first book, no question in the world but what is 
meant is my first novel. 

Sooner or later, somehow, anyhow, I was bound 
to write a novel. It seems vain to ask why. Men 
are born with various manias : from my earliest 
childhood it was mine to make a plaything of ima- 
ginary series of events ; and as soon as I was able 
to write, I became a good friend to the paper- 
makers. Reams upon reams must have gone to the 
making of * Rathillet,' ' The Pentland Rising,' 1 ' The 

1 Ne pas confondre. Not the slim green pamphlet with the imprint 
of Andrew Elliot, for which (as I see with amazement from the book- 
lists) the gentlemen of England are willing to pay fancy prices ; but its 
predecessor, a bulky historical romance without a spark of merit and now 
deleted from the world. — [R. L. S.] 

285 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

King's Pardon' (otherwise 'Park Whitehead'), 
' Edward Daven,' ' A Country Dance,' and ' A Ven- 
detta in the West ' ; and it is consolatory to remem- 
ber that these reams are now all ashes, and have 
been received again into the soil. I have named but 
a few of my ill-fated efforts, only such indeed as 
came to a fair bulk ere they were desisted from ; 
and even so they cover a long vista of years. 
' Rathillet ' was attempted before fifteen, ' The Ven- 
detta ' at twenty-nine, and the succession of defeats 
lasted unbroken till I was thirty-one. By that time 
I had written little books and little essays and short 
stories ; and had got patted on the back and paid for 
them — though not enough to live upon. I had quite 
a reputation, I was the successful man ; I passed my 
days in toil, the futility of which would sometimes 
make my cheek to burn — that I should spend a 
man's energy upon this business, and yet could not 
earn a livelihood : and still there shone ahead of me 
an unattained ideal: although I had attempted the 
thing with vigour not less than ten or twelve times, 
I had not yet written a novel. All — all my pretty 
ones — had gone for a little, and then stopped inexor- 
ably like a schoolboy's watch. I might be compared 
to a cricketer of many years' standing who should 
never have made a run. Anybody can write a short 
story — a bad one, I mean — who has industry and 
paper and time enough ; but not every one may hope 
to write even a bad novel. It is the length that 
kills. The accepted novelist may take his novel 
up and put it down, spend days upon it in vain, and 
286 



MY FIRST BOOK 

write not any more than he makes haste to blot. 
Not so the beginner. Human nature has certain 
rights ; instinct — the instinct of self-preservation — 
forbids that any man (cheered and supported by the 
consciousness of no previous victory) should endure 
the miseries of unsuccessful literary toil beyond a 
period to be measured in weeks. There must be 
something for hope to feed upon. The beginner 
must have a slant of wind, a lucky vein must be 
running, he must be in one of those hours when the 
words come and the phrases balance of themselves — 
even to begin. And having begun, what a dread 
looking forward is that until the book shall be 
accomplished ! For so long a time the slant is to 
continue unchanged, the vein to keep running, for 
so long a time you must keep at command the same 
quality of style : for so long a time your puppets 
are to be always vital, always consistent, always 
vigorous ! I remember I used to look, in those 
days, upon every three-volume novel with a sort of 
veneration, as a feat — not, possibly, of literature — 
but at least of physical and moral endurance and the 
courage of Ajax. 

In the fated year I came to live with my father 
and mother at Kinnaird, above Pitlochry. Then I 
walked on the red moors and by the side of the 
golden burn ; the rude, pure air of our mountains 
inspirited, if it did not inspire, us, and my wife and 
I projected a joint volume of bogey stories, for which 
she wrote ' The Shadow on the Bed,' and I turned 
out ' Thrawn Janet ' and a first draft of ' The Merry 

287 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

Men.' I love my native air, but it does not love 
me ; and the end of this delightful period was a cold, 
a fly-blister, and a migration by Strathardle and 
Glenshee to the Castleton of Braemar. There it 
blew a good deal and rained in a proportion ; my 
native air was more unkind than man's ingratitude, 
and I must consent to pass a good deal of my time 
between four walls in a house lugubriously known 
as the Late Miss M c Gregor's Cottage. And now 
admire the finger of predestination. There was a 
schoolboy in the Late Miss M c Gregor's Cottage, 
home from the holidays, and much in want of ' some- 
thing craggy to break his mind upon.' He had no 
thought of literature ; it was the art of Raphael that 
received his fleeting suffrages ; and with the aid of 
pen and ink and a shilling box of water-colours, he 
had soon turned one of the rooms into a picture- 
gallery. My more immediate duty towards the 
gallery was to be showman ; but I would some- 
times unbend a little, join the artist (so to speak) 
at the easel, and pass the afternoon with him in 
a generous emulation, making coloured drawings. 
On one of these occasions, I made the map of an 
island ; it was elaborately and (I thought) beautifully 
coloured ; the shape of it took my fancy beyond 
expression ; it contained harbours that pleased me 
like sonnets ; and, with the unconsciousness of the 
predestined, I ticketed my performance ' Treasure 
Island.' I am told there are people who do not 
care for maps, and find it hard to believe. The 
names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses 
288 



MY FIRST BOOK 

of the roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of 
man still distinctly traceable up hill and down dale, 
the mills and the ruins, the ponds and the ferries, 
perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druidic Circle on 
the heath ; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest 
for any man with eyes to see or twopence- worth of 
imagination to understand with ! No child but must 
remember laying his head in the grass, staring into 
the infinitesimal forest and seeing it grow populous 
with fairy armies. Somewhat in this way, as I 
paused upon my map of ' Treasure Island,' the 
future character of the book began to appear there 
visibly among imaginary woods ; and their brown 
faces and bright weapons peeped out upon me 
from unexpected quarters, as they passed to and 
fro, fighting and hunting treasure, on these few 
square inches of a flat projection. The next thing 
I knew I had some papers before me and was writing 
out a list of chapters. How often have I done so, 
and the thing gone no further ! But there seemed 
elements of success about this enterprise. It was to 
be a story for boys : no need of psychology or fine 
writing ; and I had a boy at hand to be a touch- 
stone. Women were excluded. I was unable to 
handle a brig (which the Hispaniola should have 
been), but I thought I could make shift to sail her 
as a schooner without public shame. And then I 
had an idea for John Silver from which I promised 
myself funds of entertainment : to take an admired 
friend of mine (whom the reader very likely knows 
and admires as much as I do), to deprive him of all 

21— T 289 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

his finer qualities and higher graces of temperament, 
to leave him with nothing but his strength, his 
courage, his quickness, and his magnificent geniality, 
and to try to express these in terms of the culture of 
a raw tarpaulin. Such psychical surgery is, I think, 
a common way of ' making character ' ; perhaps it is, 
indeed, the only way. We can put in the quaint 
figure that spoke a hundred words with us yesterday 
by the wayside ; but do we know him ? Our friend 
with his infinite variety and flexibility, we know — 
but can we put him in ? Upon the first, we must 
engraft secondary and imaginary qualities, possibly 
all wrong ; from the second, knife in hand, we must 
cut away and deduct the needless arborescence of his 
nature, but the trunk and the few branches that 
remain we may at least be fairly sure of. 

On a chill September morning, by the cheek of a 
brisk fire, and the rain drumming on the window, I 
began The Sea Cook, for that was the original title. 
I have begun (and finished) a number of other 
books, but I cannot remember to have sat down to 
one of them with more complacency. It is not to 
be wondered at, for stolen waters are proverbially 
sweet. I am now upon a painful chapter. No 
doubt the parrot once belonged to Robinson Crusoe. 
No doubt the skeleton is conveyed from Poe. I 
think little of these, they are trifles and details ; and 
no man can hope to have a monopoly of skeletons 
or make a corner in talking birds. The stockade, I 
am told, is from Masterman Ready. It may be, 
I care not a jot. These useful writers had fulfilled 
290 



MY FIRST BOOK 

the poet's saying : departing, they had left behind 
them Footprints on the sands of time, Footprints 
which perhaps another — and I was the other ! It is 
my debt to Washington Irving that exercises my 
conscience, and justly so, for I believe plagiarism 
was rarely carried further. I chanced to pick up 
the Tales of a Traveller some years ago with a view 
to an anthology of prose narrative, and the book 
flew up and struck me : Billy Bones, his chest, the 
company in the parlour, the whole inner spirit, 
and a good deal of the material detail of my first 
chapters — all were there, all were the property of 
Washington Irving. But I had no guess of it then 
as I sat writing by the fireside, in what seemed the 
spring-tides of a somewhat pedestrian inspiration; 
nor yet day by day, after lunch, as I read aloud my 
morning's work to the family. It seemed to me original 
as sin ; it seemed to belong to me like my right eye. 
I had counted on one boy, I found I had two in my 
audience. My father caught fire at once with all 
the romance and childishness of his original nature. 
His own stories, that every night of his life he put 
himself to sleep with, dealt perpetually with ships, 
roadside inns, robbers, old sailors, and commercial 
travellers before the era of steam. He never finished 
one of these romances ; the lucky man did not require 
to finish them ! But in Treasure Island he recog- 
nised something kindred to his own imagination ; it 
was his kind of picturesque ; and he not only heard 
with delight the daily chapter, but set himself acting 
to collaborate. When the time came for Billy Bones's 

291 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

chest to be ransacked, he must have passed the 
better part of a day preparing, on the back of a 
legal envelope, an inventory of its contents, which 
I exactly followed; and the name of 'Flint's old 
ship' — the Walrus — was given at his particular 
request. And now who should come dropping in, 
ex machind, but Dr. Japp, like the disguised prince 
who is to bring down the curtain upon peace and 
happiness in the last act; for he carried in his 
pocket, not a horn or a talisman, but a publisher. 
Even the ruthlessness of a united family recoiled 
before the extreme measure of inflicting on our 
guest the mutilated members of The Sea Cook ; at the 
same time, we would by no means stop our readings ; 
and accordingly the tale was begun again at the 
beginning, and solemnly re-delivered for the benefit 
of Dr. Japp. From that moment on, I have thought 
highly of his critical faculty ; for when he left us, he 
carried away the manuscript in his portmanteau to 
submit to his friend (since then my own) Mr. Hender- 
son, who accepted it for his periodical, Young Folks. 
Here, then, was everything to keep me up, sym- 
pathy, help, and now a positive engagement. X 
had chosen besides a very easy style. Compare it 
with the almost contemporary Merry Men ; one 
reader may prefer the one style, one the other — 'tis 
an affair of character, perhaps of mood ; but no 
expert can fail to see that the one is much more 
difficult, and the other much easier to maintain. It 
seems as though a full-grown experienced man of 
letters might engage to turn out Treasure Island at 
292 



MY FIRST BOOK 

so many pages a day, and keep his pipe alight. But 
alas ! this was not my case. Fifteen days I stuck to 
it, and turned out fifteen chapters ; and then, in the 
early paragraphs of the sixteenth, ignominiously lost 
hold. My mouth was empty ; there was not one 
word of Treasure Island in my bosom ; and here 
were the proofs of the beginning already waiting me 
at the * Hand and Spear ' ! Then I corrected them, 
living for the most part alone, walking on the heath 
at Weybridge in dewy autumn mornings, a good 
deal pleased with what I had done, and more 
appalled than I can depict to you in words at 
what remained for me to do. I was thirty-one ; I 
was the head of a family ; I had lost my health ; 
I had never yet paid my way, never yet made £200 
a year ; my father had quite recently bought back 
and cancelled a book that was judged a failure : was 
this to be another and last fiasco ? I was indeed 
very close on despair ; but I shut my mouth hard, 
and during the journey to Davos, where I was to 
pass the winter, had the resolution to think of other 
things and bury myself in the novels of M. du 
Boisgobey. Arrived at my destination, down I sat 
one morning to the unfinished tale ; and behold ! it 
flowed from me like small-talk ; and in a second tide 
of delighted industry, and again at the rate of a 
chapter a day, I finished Treasure Island. It had 
to be transcribed almost exactly ; my wife was ill ; 
the schoolboy remained alone of the faithful ; and 
John Addington Symonds (to whom I timidly 
mentioned what I was engaged on) looked on me 

293 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

askance. He was at that time very eager I should 
write on the characters of Theophrastus : so far out 
may be the judgments of the wisest men. But 
Symonds (to be sure) was scarce the confidant to 
go to for sympathy on a boy's story. He was large- 
minded ; * a full man,' if there was one ; but the 
very name of my enterprise would suggest to him 
only capitulations of sincerity and solecisms of style. 
Well ! he was not far wrong. 

Treasure Island — it was Mr. Henderson who 
deleted the first title, The Sea Cook — appeared duly 
in the story paper, where it figured in the ignoble 
midst, without woodcuts, and attracted not the 
least attention. I did not care. I liked the tale 
myself, for much the same reason as my father liked 
the beginning: it was my kind of picturesque. I 
was not a little proud of John Silver, also ; and to 
this day rather admire that smooth and formidable 
adventurer. What was infinitely more exhilarating, 
I had passed a landmark ; I had finished a tale, and 
written ' The End ' upon my manuscript, as I had 
not done since The Pentland Rising, when I was a 
boy of sixteen not yet at college. In truth it was 
so by a set of lucky accidents ; had not Dr. Japp 
come on his visit, had not the tale flowed from me 
with singular ease, it must have been laid aside like 
its predecessors, and found a circuitous and un- 
lamented way to the fire. Purists may suggest it 
would have been better so. I am not of that mind. 
The tale seems to have given much pleasure, and it 
brought (or was the means of bringing) fire and food 
294 



MY FIRST BOOK 

and wine to a deserving family in which I took an 
interest. I need scarcely say I mean my own. 

But the adventures of Treasure Island are not 
yet quite at an end. I had written it up to the 
map. The map was the chief part of my plot. For 
instance, I had called an islet ' Skeleton Island,' 
not knowing what I meant, seeking only for the 
immediate picturesque, and it was to justify this 
name that I broke into the gallery of Mr. Poe and 
stole Flint's pointer. And in the same way, it was 
because I had made two harbours that the Hispaniola 
was sent on her wanderings with Israel Hands. The 
time came when it was decided to republish, and I 
sent in my manuscript, and the map along with it, 
to Messrs. Cassell. The proofs came, they were 
corrected, but I heard nothing of the map. I wrote 
and asked ; was told it had never been received, and 
sat aghast. It is one thing to draw a map at random, 
set a scale in one corner of it at a venture, and write 
up a story to the measurements. It is quite another 
to have to examine a whole book, make an inventory 
of all the allusions contained in it, and with a pair of 
compasses, painfully design a map to suit the data. 
I did it ; and the map was drawn again in my father's 
office, with embellishments of blowing whales and 
sailing ships, and my father himself brought into 
service a knack he had of various writing, and 
elaborately forged the signature of Captain Flint, 
and the sailing directions of Billy Bones. But some- 
how it was never Treasure Island to me. 

I have said the map was the most of the plot. I 

295 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

might almost say it was the whole. A few reminis- 
cences of Poe, Defoe, and Washington Irving, a 
copy of Johnson's Buccaneers, the name of the Dead 
Man's Chest from Kingsley's At Last, some recollec- 
tions of canoeing on the high seas, and the map itself, 
with its infinite, eloquent suggestion, made up the 
whole of my materials. It is, perhaps, not often that 
a map figures so largely in a tale, yet it is always 
important. The author must know his country- 
side, whether real or imaginary, like his hand ; the 
distances, the points of the compass, the place of 
the sun's rising, the behaviour of the moon, should 
all be beyond cavil. And how troublesome the 
moon is ! I have come to grief over the moon in 
Prince Otto, and, so soon as that was pointed out to 
me, adopted a precaution which I recommend to 
other men — I never write now without an almanac. 
With an almanac, and the map of the country, and 
the plan of every house, either actually plotted on 
paper or already and immediately apprehended in 
the mind, a man may hope to avoid some of the 
grossest possible blunders. With the map before 
him, he will scarce allow the sun to set in the east, 
as it does in The Antiquary. With the almanac 
at hand, he will scarce allow two horsemen, journey- 
ing on the most urgent affair, to employ six days, 
from three of the Monday morning till late in the 
Saturday night, upon a journey of, say, ninety or a 
hundred miles, and before the week is out, and still 
on the same nags, to cover fifty in one day, as may 
be read at length in the inimitable novel of Rob Roy. 
296 



MY FIRST BOOK 

And it is certainly well, though far from necessary, 
to avoid such * croppers.' But it is my contention — 
my superstition, if you like — that who is faithful to 
his map, and consults it, and draws from it his in- 
spiration, daily and hourly, gains positive support, 
and not mere negative immunity from accident. 
The tale has a root there ; it grows in that soil ; it 
has a spine of its own behind the words. Better if 
the country be real, and he has walked every foot of 
it and knows every milestone. But even with 
imaginary places, he will do well in the beginning to 
provide a map ; as he studies it, relations will appear 
that he had not thought upon ; he will discover 
obvious, though unsuspected, shortcuts and foot- 
prints for his messengers ; and even when a map is 
not all the plot, as it was in Treasure Island, it will 
be found to be a mine of suggestion. 



ii 

THE GENESIS OF 'THE MASTER 
OF BALLANTRAE 1 

I was walking one night in the verandah of a small 
house in which I lived, outside the hamlet of Saranac. 
It was winter; the night was very dark; the air 
extraordinary clear and cold, and sweet with the 
purity of forests. From a good way below, the river 
was to be heard contending with ice and boulders : 
a few lights appeared, scattered unevenly among the 

297 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

darkness, but so far away as not to lessen the sense 
of isolation. For the making of a story here were 
fine conditions. I was besides moved with the spirit 
of emulation, for I had just finished my third or 
fourth perusal of The Phantom Ship. ' Come,' said 
I to my engine, ' let us make a tale, a story of many 
years and countries, of the sea and the land, 
savagery and civilisation ; a story that shall have 
the same large features, and may be treated in the 
same summary elliptic method as the book you have 
been reading and admiring.' I was here brought 
up with a reflection exceedingly just in itself, but 
which, as the sequel shows, I failed to profit by. 
I saw that Marryat, not less than Homer, Milton, 
and Virgil, profited by the choice of a familiar and 
legendary subject ; so that he prepared his readers 
on the very title-page ; and this set me cudgelling 
my brains, if by any chance I could hit upon some 
similar belief to be the centre-piece of my own 
meditated fiction. In the course of this vain search 
there cropped up in my memory a singular case of 
a buried and resuscitated fakir, which I had been 
often told by an uncle of mine, then lately dead, 
Inspector-General John Balfour. 

On such a fine frosty night, with no wind and the 
thermometer below zero, the brain works with much 
vivacity ; and the next moment I had seen the 
circumstance transplanted from India and the tropics 
to the Adirondack wilderness and the stringent cold 
of the Canadian border. Here then, almost before 
I had begun my story, I had two countries, two of 
298 



MASTER OF BALLANTRAE 

the ends of the earth involved : and thus though the 
notion of the resuscitated man failed entirely on 
the score of general acceptation, or even (as I have 
since found) acceptability, it fitted at once with my 
design of a tale of many lands ; and this decided me 
to consider further of its possibilities. The man 
who should thus be buried was the first question : 
a good man, whose return to life would be hailed by 
the reader and the other characters with gladness ? 
This trenched upon the Christian picture and was 
dismissed. If the idea, then, was to be of any use 
at all for me, I had to create a kind of evil genius 
to his friends and family, take him through many 
disappearances, and make this final restoration from 
the pit of death, in the icy American wilderness, the 
last and the grimmest of the series. I need not tell 
my brothers of the craft that I was now in the most 
interesting moment of an author's life ; the hours 
that followed that night upon the balcony, and the 
following nights and days, whether walking abroad 
or lying wakeful in my bed, were hours of un- 
adulterated joy. My mother, who was then living 
with me alone, perhaps had less enjoyment ; for, in 
the absence of my wife, who is my usual helper 
in these times of parturition, I must spur her up at 
all seasons to hear me relate and try to clarify my 
unformed fancies. 

And while I was groping for the fable and the 
character required, behold I found them lying ready 
and nine years old in my memory. Pease porridge 
hot, pease porridge cold, pease porridge in the pot, 

299 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

nine years old. Was there ever a more complete 
justification of the rule of Horace ? Here, thinking 
of quite other things, I had stumbled on the solu- 
tion, or perhaps I should rather say (in stagewright 
phrase) the Curtain or final Tableau of a story con- 
ceived long before on the moors between Pitlochry 
and Strathardle, conceived in Highland rain, in the 
blend of the smell of heather and bog-plants, and 
with a mind full of the Athole correspondence 
and the memories of the dumlicide Justice. So 
long ago, so far away it was, that I had first evoked 
the faces and the mutual tragic situation of the men 
of Durrisdeer. 

My story was now world-wide enough : Scotland, 
India, and America being all obligatory scenes. But 
of these India was strange to me except in books; 
I had never known any living Indian save a Parsee, 
a member of my club in London, equally civilised, 
and (to all seeing) equally occidental with myself. 
It was plain, thus far, that I should have to get into 
India and out of it again upon a foot of fairy light- 
ness ; and I believe this first suggested to me the 
idea of the Chevalier Burke for a narrator. It was 
at first intended that he should be Scottish, and I 
was then filled with fears that he might prove only 
the degraded shadow of my own Alan Breck. 
Presently, however, it began to occur to me it 
would be like my Master to curry favour with the 
Prince's Irishmen ; and that an Irish refugee would 
have a particular reason to find himself in India 
with his countryman, the unfortunate Lally. Irish, 
300 



MASTER OF BALLANTRAE 

therefore, I decided he should be, and then, all of a 
sudden, I was aware of a tall shadow across my 
path, the shadow of Barry Lyndon. No man (in 
Lord Foppington's phrase) of a nice morality could 
go very deep with my Master : in the original idea 
of this story conceived in Scotland, this companion 
had been besides intended to be worse than the bad 
elder son with whom (as it was then meant) he was 
to visit Scotland ; if I took an Irishman, and a very 
bad Irishman, in the midst of the eighteenth century, 
how was I to evade Barry Lyndon ? The wretch 
besieged me, offering his services ; he gave me 
excellent references ; he proved that he was highly 
fitted for the work I had to do ; he, or my own evil 
heart, suggested it was easy to disguise his ancient 
livery with a little lace and a few frogs and buttons, 
so that Thackeray himself should hardly recognise 
him. And then of a sudden there came to me 
memories of a young Irishman, with whom I was 
once intimate, and had spent long nights walking 
and talking with, upon a very desolate coast in a 
bleak autumn : I recalled him as a youth of an 
extraordinary moral simplicity — almost vacancy ; 
plastic to any influence, the creature of his admira- 
tions : and putting such a youth in fancy into the 
career of a soldier of fortune, it occurred to me that 
he would serve my turn as well as Mr. Lyndon, and 
in place of entering into competition with the 
Master, would afford a slight though a distinct 
relief. I know not if I have done him well, though 
his moral dissertations always highly entertained 

301 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

me : but I own I have been surprised to find that he 
reminded some critics of Barry Lyndon after all. . . . 



in 

RANDOM MEMORIES : ROSA QUO LOCORUM 

Through what little channels, by what hints and 
premonitions, the consciousness of the man's art 
dawns first upon the child, it should be not only 
interesting but instructive to inquire. A matter of 
curiosity to-day, it will become the ground of science 
to-morrow. From the mind of childhood there is 
more history and more philosophy to be fished up 
than from all the printed volumes in a library. The 
child is conscious of an interest, not in literature but 
in life. A taste for the precise, the adroit or the 
comely in the use of words, comes late; but long 
before that he has enjoyed in books a delightful 
dress rehearsal of experience. He is first conscious 
of this material — I had almost said this practical — 
pre-occupation ; it does not follow that it really 
came the first. I have some old fogged negatives in 
my collection that would seem to imply a prior stage. 
' The Lord is gone up with a shout, and God with 
the sound of a trumpet ' — memorial version, I know 
not where to find the text — rings still in my ear 
from my first childhood, and perhaps with some- 
thing of my nurse's accent. There was possibly 
some sort of image written in my mind by these 
loud words, but I believe the words themselves were 
302 



ROSA QUO LOCORUM 

what I cherished. I had about the same time, and 
under the same influence — that of my dear nurse — 
a favourite author : it is possible the reader has not 
heard of him — the Rev. Robert Murray M'Cheyne. 
My nurse and I admired his name exceedingly, so 
that I must have been taught the love of beautiful 
sounds before I was breeched ; and I remember two 
specimens of his muse until this day : 

' Behind the hills of Naphtali 
The sun went slowly down, 
Leaving on mountain, tower, and tree, 
A tinge of golden brown.' 

There is imagery here, and I set it on one side. 
The other — it is but a verse — not only contains no 
image, but is quite unintelligible even to my com- 
paratively instructed mind, and I know not even 
how to spell the outlandish vocable that charmed 
me in my childhood : 

' Jehovah Tschidkenu is nothing to her ' ; 1 

I may say, without flippancy, that he was nothing 
to me either, since I had no ray of a guess of what 
he was about; yet the verse, from then to now, a 
longer interval than the life of a generation, has 
continued to haunt me. 

I have said that I should set a passage distin- 
guished by obvious and pleasing imagery, however 
faint; for the child thinks much in images, words 
are very live to him, phrases that imply a picture 
eloquent beyond their value. Rummaging in the 

1 ' Jehovah Tsidkenu,' translated in the Authorised Version as ' The 
Lord our Righteousness ' (Jeremiah xxiii. 6 and xxxiii. 16). 

303 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

dusty pigeon-holes of memory, I came once upon a 
graphic version of the famous Psalm, ' The Lord is 
my shepherd ' : and from the places employed in its 
illustration, which are all in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of a house then occupied by my father, I 
am able to date it before the seventh year of my age, 
although it was probably earlier in fact. The ' pas- 
tures green' were represented by a certain suburban 
stubble-field, where I had once walked with my nurse, 
under an autumnal sunset, on the banks of the Water 
of Leith : the place is long ago built up ; no pastures 
now, no stubble-fields ; only a maze of little streets 
and smoking chimneys and shrill children. Here, 
in the fleecy person of a sheep, I seemed to myself 
to follow something unseen, unrealised, and yet 
benignant ; and close by the sheep in which I was 
incarnated — as if for greater security — rustled the 
skirts of my nurse. * Death's dark vale' was a 
certain archway in the Warriston Cemetery : a for- 
midable yet beloved spot, for children love to be 
afraid, — in measure as they love all experience of 
vitality. Here I beheld myself some paces ahead 
(seeing myself, I mean, from behind) utterly alone 
in that uncanny passage : on the one side of me a 
rude, knobby shepherd's staff, such as cheers the 
heart of the cockney tourist, on the other a rod like 
a billiard cue, appeared to accompany my progress : 
the staff sturdily upright, the billiard cue inclined 
confidentially, like one whispering, towards my ear. 
I was aware — I will never tell you how — that the 
presence of these articles afforded me encourage- 
304 



ROSA QUO LOCORUM 

ment. The third and last of my pictures illustrated 
the words : — 

' My table Thou hast furnished 
In presence of my foes : 
My head Thou dost with oil anoint, 
And my cup overflows ' : 

and this was perhaps the most interesting of the series. 
I saw myself seated in a kind of open stone summer- 
house at table ; over my shoulder a hairy, bearded, 
and robed presence anointed me from an authentic 
shoe-horn ; the summer-house was part of the green 
court of a ruin, and from the far side of the court 
black and white imps discharged against me ineffec- 
tual arrows. The picture appears arbitrary, but I 
can trace every detail to its source, as Mr. Brock 
analysed the dream of Alan Armadale. The 
summer-house and court were muddled together 
out of Billings' Antiquities of Scotland; the imps 
conveyed from Bagster's Pilgrims Progress ; the 
bearded and robed figure from any one of a thousand 
Bible pictures ; and the shoe-horn was plagiarised 
from an old illustrated Bible, where it figured in the 
hand of Samuel anointing Saul, and had been pointed 
out to me as a jest by my father. It was shown me 
for a jest, remark ; but the serious spirit of infancy 
adopted it in earnest. Children are all classics ; a 
bottle would have seemed an intermediary too 
trivial — that divine refreshment of whose meaning 
I had no guess ; and I seized on the idea of 
that mystic shoe-horn with delight, even as, a little 
later, I should have written flagon, chalice, hanaper, 

21— U 305 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

beaker, or any word that might have appealed to me 
at the moment as least contaminate with mean 
associations. In this string of pictures I believe the 
gist of the psalm to have consisted ; I believe it had 
no more to say to me ; and the result was consola- 
tory. I would go to sleep dwelling with restfulness 
upon these images ; they passed before me, besides, 
to an appropriate music ; for I had already singled 
out from that rude psalm the one lovely verse which 
dwells in the minds of all, not growing old, not 
disgraced by its association with long Sunday tasks, 
a scarce conscious joy in childhood, in age a com- 
panion thought : — 

' In pastures green Thou leadest me 
The quiet waters by/ 

The remainder of my childish recollections are all 
of the matter of what was read to me, and not of 
any manner in the words. If these pleased me, it 
was unconsciously ; I listened for news of the great 
vacant world upon whose edge I stood ; I listened 
for delightful plots that I might re-enact in play, 
and romantic scenes and circumstances that I might 
call up before me, with closed eyes, when I was 
tired of Scotland, and home, and that weary prison 
of the sick-chamber in which I lay so long in durance. 
Robinson Crusoe', some of the books of that cheerful, 
ingenious, romantic soul, Mayne Reid ; and a work 
rather gruesome and bloody for a child, but very 
picturesque) called Paul Blake ; these are the three 
strongest impressions I remember : The Swiss Family 
306 



ROSA QUO LOCORUM 

Robinson came next, longo intervallo. At these I 
played, conjured up their scenes, and delighted to 
hear them rehearsed unto seventy times seven. I 
am not sure but what Paul Blake came after I could 
read. It seems connected with a visit to the country, 
and an experience unforgettable. The day had been 

warm ; H and I had played together charmingly 

all day in a sandy wilderness across the road ; then 
came the evening with a great flash of colour and 
a heavenly sweetness in the air. Somehow my play- 
mate had vanished, or is out of the story, as the 
sagas say, but I was sent into the village on an 
errand ; and, taking a book of fairy tales, went down 
alone through a fir- wood, reading as I walked. How 
often since then has it befallen me to be happy even 
so ; but that was the first time : the shock of that 
pleasure I have never since forgot, and if my mind 
serves me to the last, I never shall ; for it was then 
that I knew I loved reading. 

ii 

To pass from hearing literature to reading it is to 
take a great and dangerous step. With not a few, I 
think a large proportion of their pleasure then comes 
to an end ; * the malady of not marking ' overtakes 
them ; they read thenceforward by the eye alone 
and hear never again the chime of fair words or the 
march of the stately period. Non ragioniam of 
these. But to all the step is dangerous ; it involves 
coming of age ; it is even a kind of second weaning. 
In the past all was at the choice of others; they 

307 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

chose, they digested, they read aloud for us and sang 
to their own tune the books of childhood. In the 
future we are to approach the silent, inexpressive 
type alone, like pioneers ; and the choice of what we 
are to read is in our own hands thenceforward. For 
instance, in the passages already adduced, I detect 
and applaud the ear of my old nurse ; they were of 
her choice, and she imposed them on my infancy, 
reading the works of others as a poet would scarce 
dare to read his own ; gloating on the rhythm, dwell- 
ing with delight on assonances and alliterations. I 
know very well my mother must have been all the 
while trying to educate my taste upon more secular 
authors ; but the vigour and the continual oppor- 
tunities of my nurse triumphed, and after a long 
search, I can find in these earliest volumes of my 
autobiography no mention of anything but nursery 
rhymes, the Bible, and Mr. M'Cheyne. 

I suppose all children agree in looking back with 
delight on their school Readers. We might not now 
find so much pathos in 'Bingen on the Rhine,' 'A 
soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers,' or in e The 
Soldier's Funeral,' in the declamation of which I 
was held to have surpassed myself. ' Robert's voice,' 
said the master on this memorable occasion, ' is not 
strong, but impressive ' : an opinion which I was fool 
enough to carry home to my father ; who roasted me 
for years in consequence. I am sure one should not 
be so deliciously tickled by the humorous pieces : — 

* What, crusty ? cries Will in a taking, 
Who would not be crusty with half a year's baking ? ' 
308 



ROSA QUO LOCORUM 

I think this quip would leave us cold. The ' Isles of 
Greece ' seem rather tawdry too ; but on the ' Address 
to the Ocean,' or on 'The Dying Gladiator,' 'time 
has writ no wrinkle.' 

' 'Tis the morn, but dim and dark, 
Whither flies the silent lark ? ' — 

does the reader recall the moment when his eye 
first fell upon these lines in the Fourth Reader; 
and ' surprised with joy, impatient as the wind,' he 
plunged into the sequel? And there was another 
piece, this time in prose, which none can have for- 
gotten ; many like me must have searched Dickens 
with zeal to find it again, and in its proper context, 
and have perhaps been conscious of some inconsider- 
able measure of disappointment, that it was only 
Tom Pinch who drove, in such a pomp of poetry, to 
London. 

But in the Reader we are still under guides. 
What a boy turns out for himself, as he rummages 
the bookshelves, is the real test and pleasure. My 
father's library was a spot of some austerity: the 
proceedings of learned societies, some Latin divinity, 
cyclopaedias, physical science, and, above all, optics, 
held the chief place upon the shelves, and it was 
only in holes and corners that anything really legible 
existed as by accident. The Parenfs Assistant, Rob 
Roy, Waverley, and Guy Mannering, the Voyages 
of Captain Woods Rogers, Fuller's and Bunyan's 
Holy Wars, The Reflections of Robinson Crusoe, 
The Female Bluebeard, G. Sand's Mare au Diable — 

309 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

(how came it in that grave assembly !), Ainsworth's 
Tower of London, and four old volumes of Punch — 
these were the chief exceptions. In these latter, 
which made for years the chief of my diet, I very 
early fell in love (almost as soon as I could spell) 
with the Snob Papers. I knew them almost by 
heart, particularly the visit to the Pontos ; and I 
remember my surprise when I found, long afterwards, 
that they were famous, and signed with a famous 
name ; to me, as I read and admired them, they 
were the works of Mr. Punch. Time and again I 
tried to read Rob Roy, with whom of course I was 
acquainted from the Tales of a Grandfather ; time 
and again the early part, with Rashleigh and (think 
of it !) the adorable Diana, choked me off ; and I 
shall never forget the pleasure and surprise with 
which, lying on the floor one summer evening, I 
struck of a sudden into the first scene with Andrew 
Fairservice. ' The worthy Dr. Lightfoot ' — ' mis- 
try sted with a bogle' — * a wheen green trash ' — 
' Jenny, lass, I think I ha'e her ' : from that day to 
this the phrases have been unforgotten. I read on, I 
need scarce say ; I came to Glasgow, I bided tryst 
on Glasgow Bridge, I met Rob Roy and the Bailie 
in the Tolbooth, all with transporting pleasure ; and 
then the clouds gathered once more about my path ; 
and I dozed and skipped until I stumbled half-asleep 
into the clachan of Aberfoyle, and the voices of 
Iverach and Galbraith recalled me to myself. With 
that scene and the defeat of Captain Thornton the 
book concluded ; Helen and her sons shocked even 
310 



RANDOM MEMORIES 

the little schoolboy of nine or ten with their un- 
reality ; I read no more, or I did not grasp what I 
was reading ; and years elapsed before I consciously 
met Diana and her father among the hills, or saw 
Rashleigh dying in the chair. When I think of 
that novel and that evening, I am impatient with all 
others ; they seem but shadows and impostors ; they 
cannot satisfy the appetite which this awakened ; 
and I dare be known to think it the best of Sir 
Walter's by nearly as much as Sir Walter is the best 
of novelists. Perhaps Mr. Lang is right, and our 
first friends in the land of fiction are always the 
most real. And yet I had read before this Guy 
Mannering, and some of Waverley, with no such 
delighted sense of truth and humour, and I read 
immediately after the greater part of the Waverley 
Novels, and was never moved again in the same way 
or to the same degree. One circumstance is sus- 
picious : my critical estimate of the Waverley Novels 
has scarce changed at all since I was ten. Rob Roy, 
Guy Mannering, and Redgauntlet first ; then, a 
little lower, The Fortunes of Nigel; then, after a 
huge gulf, Ivanhoe and Anne of Geier stein : the rest 
nowhere ; such was the verdict of the boy. Since 
then The Antiquary, St Ronans Well, Kenilworth, 
and The Heart of Midlothian have gone up in the 
scale ; perhaps Ivanhoe and Anne of Geier stein have 
gone a trifle down ; Diana Vernon has been added 
to my admirations in that enchanted world of Rob 
Roy ; I think more of the letters in Redgauntlet, 
and Peter Peebles, that dreadful piece of realism, I 

3ii 



ESSAYS AND FRAGMENTS 

can now read about with equanimity, interest, and 
I had almost said pleasure, while to the childish 
critic he often caused unmixed distress. But the 
rest is the same ; I could not finish The Pirate 
when I was a child, I have never finished it yet ; 
Peveril of the Peak dropped half way through 
from my schoolboy hands, and though I have since 
waded to an end in a kind of wager with my- 
self, the exercise was quite without enjoyment. 
There is something disquieting in these considera- 
tions. I still think the visit to Ponto's the best 
part of the Book of Snobs : does that mean that 
I was right when I was a child, or does it mean 
that I have never grown since then, that the child is 
not the man's father, but the man ? and that I came 
into the world with all my faculties complete, and 
have only learned sinsyne to be more tolerant of 
boredom? . . . 



312 



LAY MORALS 



The following chapters of a projected treatise on ethics, 
here printed for the first time, were drafted at Edin- 
burgh in the spring of 1879. They are unrevised, 
and must not be taken as representing, either as to 
matter or form, their authors final thoughts ; but 
they contain much that is essentially characteristic 
of his mind. 



All rights reserved. 
Copyright in the United States of America. 



LAY MORALS 



CHAPTER I 



The problem of education is twofold: first to 
know, and then to utter. Every one who lives any 
semblance of an inner life thinks more nobly and 
profoundly than he speaks ; and the best of teachers 
can impart only broken images of the truth which 
they perceive. Speech which goes from one to 
another between two natures, and, what is worse, 
between two experiences, is doubly relative. The 
speaker buries his meaning; it is for the hearer to 
dig it up again ; and all speech, written or spoken, is 
in a dead language until it finds a willing and pre- 
pared hearer. Such, moreover, is the complexity of 
life, that when we condescend upon details in our 
advice, we may be sure we condescend on error; 
and the best of education is to throw out some mag- 
nanimous hints. No man was ever so poor that he 
could express all he has in him by words, looks, or 
actions ; his true knowledge is eternally incommuni- 
cable, for it is a knowledge of himself ; and his best 
wisdom comes to him by no process of the mind, 
but in a supreme self-dictation, which keeps varying 

315 



LAY MORALS 

from hour to hour in its dictates with the variation 
of events and circumstances. 

A few men of picked nature, full of faith, courage, 
and contempt for others, try earnestly to set forth 
as much as they can grasp of this inner law ; but 
the vast majority, when they come to advise the 
young, must be content to retail certain doctrines 
which have been already retailed to them in their 
own youth. Every generation has to educate another 
which it has brought upon the stage. People who 
readily accept the responsibility of parentship, having 
very different matters in their eye, are apt to feel 
rueful when that responsibility falls due. What are 
they to tell the child about life and conduct, subjects 
on which they have themselves so few and such con- 
fused opinions ? Indeed, I do not know ; the least 
said, perhaps, the soonest mended ; and yet the child 
keeps asking, and the parent must find some words 
to say in his own defence. Where does he find 
them ? and what are they when found ? 

As a matter of experience, and in nine hundred 
and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand, he will 
instil into his wide-eyed brat three bad things ; 
the terror of public opinion, and, flowing from that 
as a fountain, the desire of wealth and applause. 
Besides these, or what might be deduced as corol- 
laries from these, he will teach not much else of 
any effective value : some dim notions of divinity, 
perhaps, and book-keeping, and how to walk through 
a quadrille. 

But, you may tell me, the young people are 
316 



LAY MORALS 

taught to be Christians. It may be want of pene- 
tration, but I have not yet been able to perceive it. 
As an honest man, whatever we teach, and be it good 
or evil, it is not the doctrine of Christ. What he 
taught (and in this he is like all other teachers worthy 
of the name) was not a code of rules, but a ruling 
spirit ; not truths, but a spirit of truth ; not views, 
but a view. What he showed us was an attitude of 
mind. Towards the many considerations on which 
conduct is built, each man stands in a certain rela- 
tion. He takes life on a certain principle. He has 
a compass in his spirit which points in a certain 
direction. It is the attitude, the relation, the point 
of the compass, that is the whole body and gist of 
what he has to teach us ; in this, the details are com- 
prehended; out of this the specific precepts issue, 
and by this, and this only, can they be explained and 
applied. And thus, to learn aright from any teacher, 
we must first of all, like a historical artist, think 
ourselves into sympathy with his position and, in the 
technical phrase, create his character. A historian 
confronted with some ambiguous politician, or an 
actor charged with a part, have but one pre-occupa- 
tion ; they must search all round and upon every 
side, and grope for some central conception which is 
to explain and justify the most extreme details ; until 
that is found, the politician is an enigma, or perhaps 
a quack, and the part a tissue of fustian sentiment 
and big words ; but once that is found, all enters 
into a plan, a human nature appears, the politician 
or the stage-king is understood from point to point, 

3i7 



LAY MORALS 

from end to end. This is a degree of trouble which 
will be gladly taken by a very humble artist ; but not 
even the terror of eternal fire can teach a business 
man to bend his imagination to such athletic efforts. 
Yet without this, all is vain ; until we understand 
the whole, we shall understand none of the parts ; 
and otherwise we have no more than broken images 
and scattered words ; the meaning remains buried ; 
and the language in which our prophet speaks to us 
is a dead language in our ears. 

Take a few of Christ's sayings and compare them 
with our current doctrines. 

' Ye cannot, ' he says, ' serve God and Mammon.'' 
Cannot ? And our whole system is to teach us how 
we can ! 

' The children of this world are wiser in their 
generation than the children of light.' Are they? 
I had been led to understand the reverse : that the 
Christian merchant, for example, prospered exceed- 
ingly in his affairs ; that honesty was the best policy ; 
that an author of repute had written a conclusive 
treatise ' How to make the best of both worlds. ' Of 
both worlds indeed ! Which am I to believe then — 
Christ or the author of repute ? 

' Take no thought for the morrow.' Ask the Suc- 
cessful Merchant ; interrogate your own heart ; and 
you will have to admit that this is not only a silly 
but an immoral position. All we believe, all we 
hope, all we honour in ourselves or our contempor- 
aries, stands condemned in this one sentence, or, if 
you take the other view, condemns the sentence as 
3i8 



LAY MORALS 

unwise and inhumane. We are not then of the 
' same mind that was in Christ.' We disagree with 
Christ. Either Christ meant nothing, or else he or 
we must be in the wrong. Well says Thoreau, 
speaking of some texts from the New Testament, 
and finding a strange echo of another style which 
the reader may recognise: 'Let but one of these 
sentences be rightly read from any pulpit in the 
land, and there would not be left one stone of that 
meeting-house upon another.' 

It may be objected that these are what are 
called ' hard sayings ' ; and that a man, or an educa- 
tion, may be very sufficiently Christian although it 
leave some of these sayings upon one side. But 
this is a very gross delusion. Although truth is 
difficult to state, it is both easy and agreeable to 
receive, and the mind runs out to meet it ere the 
phrase be done. The universe, in relation to what 
any man can say of it, is plain, patent and staringly 
comprehensible. In itself, it is a great and travailing 
ocean, unsounded, unvoyageable, an eternal mystery 
to man ; or, let us say, it is a monstrous and im- 
passable mountain, one side of which, and a few 
near slopes and foothills, we can dimly study with 
these mortal eyes. But what any man can say of 
it, even in his highest utterance, must have relation to 
this little and plain corner, which is no less visible 
to us than to him. We are looking on the same 
map ; it will go hard if we cannot follow the de- 
monstration. The longest and most abstruse flight 
of a philosopher becomes clear and shallow, in the 

3i9 



LAY MORALS 

flash of a moment, when we suddenly perceive the 
aspect and drift of his intention. The longest argu- 
ment is but a finger pointed ; once we get our own 
finger rightly parallel, and we see what the man 
meant, whether it be a new star or an old street- 
lamp. And briefly, if a saying is hard to understand, 
it is because we are thinking of something else. 

But to be a true disciple is to think of the same 
things as our prophet, and to think of different 
things in the same order. To be of the same mind 
with another is to see all things in the same per- 
spective; it is not to agree in a few indifferent 
matters near at hand and not much debated ; it is 
to follow him in his farthest flights, to see the force 
of his hyperboles, to stand so exactly in the centre of 
his vision that whatever he may express, your eyes 
will light at once on the original, that whatever he 
may see to declare, your mind will at once accept. 
You do not belong to the school of any philosopher, 
because you agree with him that theft is, on the 
whole, objectionable, or that the sun is overhead at 
noon. It is by the hard sayings that discipleship is 
tested. We are all agreed about the middling and 
indifferent parts of knowledge and morality ; even 
the most soaring spirits too often take them tamely 
upon trust. But the man, the philosopher or the 
moralist, does not stand upon these chance adhesions ; 
and the purpose of any system looks towards those 
, extreme points where it steps valiantly beyond tradi- 
tion and returns with some covert hint of things 
outside. Then only can you be certain that the 
320 



LAY MORALS 

words are not words of course, nor mere echoes of 
the past; then only are you sure that if he be 
indicating anything at all, it is a star and not a 
street-lamp ; then only do you touch the heart of 
the mystery, since it was for these that the author 
wrote his book. 

Now, every now and then, and indeed surprisingly 
often, Christ finds a word that transcends all common- 
place morality; every now and then he quits the 
beaten track to pioneer the unexpressed, and throws 
out a pregnant and magnanimous hyperbole ; for it 
is only by some bold poetry of thought that men 
can be strung up above the level of everyday con- 
ceptions to take a broader look upon experience or 
accept some higher principle of conduct. To a man 
who is of the same mind that was in Christ, who 
stands at some centre not too far from his, and looks 
at the world and conduct from some not dissimilar 
or, at least, not opposing attitude — or, shortly, to a 
man who is of Christ's philosophy — every such say- 
ing should come home with a thrill of joy and 
corroboration ; he should feel each one below his 
feet as another sure foundation in the flux of time 
and chance ; each should be another proof that in 
the torrent of the years and generations, where doc- 
trines and great armaments and empires are swept 
away and swallowed, he stands immovable, holding 
by the eternal stars. But alas ! at this juncture of 
the ages it is not so with us; on each and every 
such occasion our whole fellowship of Christians 
falls back in disapproving wonder and implicitly 
21 — x 321 



LAY MORALS 

denies the saying. Christians ! the farce is impudently 
broad. Let us stand up in the sight of heaven and 
confess. The ethics that we hold are those of 
Benjamin Franklin. Honesty is the best policy, is 
perhaps a hard saying ; it is certainly one by which 
a wise man of these days will not too curiously 
direct his steps ; but I think it shows a glimmer 
of meaning to even our most dimmed intelligences ; 
I think we perceive a principle behind it ; I think, 
without hyperbole, we are of the same mind that 
was in Benjamin Franklin. 



CHAPTER II 

But, I may be told, we teach the ten command- 
ments, where a world of morals lies condensed, the 
very pith and epitome of all ethics and religion ; 
and a young man with these precepts engraved upon 
his mind must follow after profit with some con- 
science and Christianity of method. A man cannot 
go very far astray who neither dishonours his 
parents, nor kills, nor commits adultery, nor steals, 
nor bears false witness ; for these things, rightly 
thought out, cover a vast field of duty. 

Alas ! what is a precept ? It is at best an illus- 
tration ; it is case law at the best which can be 
learned by precept. The letter is not only dead, but 
killing ; the spirit which underlies, and cannot be 
uttered, alone is true and helpful. This is trite to 
sickness ; but familiarity has a cunning disenchant- 
322 



LAY MORALS 

ment ; in a day or two she can steal all beauty 
from the mountain tops ; and the most startling 
words begin to fall dead upon the ear after several 
repetitions. If you see a thing too often, you no 
longer see it ; if you hear a thing too often, you 
no longer hear it. Our attention requires to be sur- 
prised ; and to carry a fort by assault, or to gain a 
thoughtful hearing from the ruck of mankind, are 
feats of about an equal difficulty and must be tried 
by not dissimilar means. The whole Bible has thus 
lost its message for the common run of hearers ; it 
has become mere words of course ; and the parson 
may bawl himself scarlet and beat the pulpit like a 
thing possessed, but his hearers will continue to 
nod ; they are strangely at peace ; they know all he 
has to say ; ring the old bell as you choose, it is still 
the old bell and it cannot startle their composure. 
And so with this byword about the letter and the 
spirit. It is quite true, no doubt ; but it has no 
meaning in the world to any man of us. Alas ! it has 
just this meaning, and neither more nor less : that 
while the spirit is true, the letter is eternally false. 

The shadow of a great oak lies abroad upon the 
ground at noon, perfect, clear, and stable like the 
earth. But let a man set himself to mark out the 
boundary with cords and pegs, and were he never so 
nimble and never so exact, what with the multipli- 
city of the leaves and the progression of the shadow 
as it flees before the travelling sun, long ere he has 
made the circuit the whole figure will have changed. 
Life may be compared, not to a single tree, but to a 

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great and complicated forest ; circumstance is more 
swiftly changing than a shadow, language much more 
inexact than the tools of a surveyor ; from day to 
day the trees fall and are renewed ; the very essences 
are fleeting as we look ; and the whole world of 
leaves is swinging tempest-tossed among the winds 
of time. Look now for your shadows. O man of 
formulas, is this a place for you? Have you fitted 
the spirit to a single case ? Alas, in the cycle of the 
ages when shall such another be proposed for the 
judgment of man ? Now when the sun shines and 
the winds blow, the wood is filled with an innumer- 
able multitude of shadows, tumultuously tossed and 
changing ; and at every gust the whole carpet leaps 
and becomes new. Can you or your heart say more ? 
Look back now, for a moment, on your own brief 
experience of life ; and although you lived it feelingly 
in your own person, and had every step of conduct 
burned in by pains and joys upon your memory, tell 
me what definite lesson does experience hand on 
from youth to manhood, or from both to age ? The 
settled tenor which first strikes the eye is but the 
shadow of a delusion. This is gone ; that never 
truly was ; and you yourself are altered beyond 
recognition. Times and men and circumstances 
change about your changing character, with a speed 
of which no earthly hurricane affords an image. 
What was the best yesterday, is it still the best in 
this changed theatre of a to-morrow? Will your 
own Past truly guide you in your own violent and 
unexpected Future? And if this be questionable, 
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with what humble, with what hopeless eyes, should 
we not watch other men driving beside us on their 
unknown careers, seeing with unlike eyes, impelled 
by different gales, doing and suffering in another 
sphere of things ? 

And as the authentic clue to such a labyrinth 
and change of scene, do you offer me these two 
score words ? these five bald prohibitions ? For 
the moral precepts are no more than five ; the first 
four deal rather with matters of observance than of 
conduct ; the tenth, Thou shalt not covet, stands upon 
another basis, and shall be spoken of ere long. The 
Jews, to whom they were first given, in the course 
of years began to find these precepts insufficient ; 
and made an addition of no less than six hundred 
and fifty others ! They hoped to make a pocket- 
book of reference on morals, which should stand to 
life in some such relation, say, as Hoyle stands in 
to the scientific game of whist. The comparison is 
just, and condemns the design ; for those who play 
by rule will never be more than tolerable players ; 
and you and I would like to play our game in life 
to the noblest and the most divine advantage. Yet 
if the Jews took a petty and huckstering view of con- 
duct, what view do we take ourselves, who callously 
leave youth to go forth into the enchanted forest, full 
of spells and dire chimeras, with no guidance more 
complete than is afforded by these five precepts ? 

Honour thy father and thy mother. Yes, but 
does that mean to obey ? and if so, how long and 
how far ? Thou shalt not kill. Yet the very inten- 

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tion and purport of the prohibition may be best 
fulfilled by killing. Thou shalt not commit adultery. 
But some of the ugliest adulteries are committed 
in the bed of marriage and under the sanction of 
religion and law. Thou shalt not bear false witness. 
How ? by speech or by silence also ? or even by a 
smile ? Thou shalt not steal. Ah, that indeed ! 
But what is to steal ? 

To steal? It is another word to be construed; 
and who is to be our guide? The police will 
give us one construction, leaving the word only 
that least minimum of meaning without which 
society would fall in pieces ; but surely we must 
take some higher sense than this; surely we hope 
more than a bare subsistence for mankind ; surely 
we wish mankind to prosper and go on from 
strength to strength, and ourselves to live rightly in 
the eye of some more exacting potentate than a 
policeman. The approval or the disapproval of the 
police must be eternally indifferent to a man who 
is both valorous and good. There is extreme dis- 
comfort, but no shame, in the condemnation of the 
law. The law represents that modicum of morality 
which can be squeezed out of the ruck of mankind ; 
but what is that to me, who aim higher and seek to 
be my own more stringent judge ? I observe with 
pleasure that no brave man has ever given a rush for 
such considerations. The Japanese have a nobler 
and more sentimental feeling for this social bond 
into which we all are born when we come into the 
world, and whose comforts and protection we all 
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indifferently share throughout our lives : — but even 
to them, no more than to our Western saints and 
heroes, does the law of the state supersede the 
higher law of duty. Without hesitation and with- 
out remorse, they transgress the stiffest enactments 
rather than abstain from doing right. But the 
accidental superior duty being thus fulfilled, they at 
once return in allegiance to the common duty of all 
citizens ; and hasten to denounce themselves ; and 
value at an equal rate their just crime and their 
equally just submission to its punishment. 

The evading of the police will not long satisfy an 
active conscience or a thoughtful head. But to 
show you how one or the other may trouble a man, 
and what a vast extent of frontier is left unridden 
by this invaluable eighth commandment, let me tell 
you a few pages out of a young man's life. 

He was a friend of mine; a young man like 
others ; generous, flighty, as variable as youth itself, 
but always with some high motions and on the 
search for higher thoughts of life. I should tell you 
at once that he thoroughly agrees with the eighth 
commandment. But he got hold of some unsettling 
works, the New Testament among others, and this 
loosened his views of life and led him into many 
perplexities. As he was the son of a man in a 
certain position, and well off, my friend had enjoyed 
from the first the advantages of education, nay, he 
had been kept alive through a sickly childhood by con- 
stant watchfulness, comforts, and change of air ; for 
all of which he was indebted to his father's wealth. 

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At college he met other lads more diligent than 
himself, who followed the plough in summer-time to 
pay their college fees in winter ; and this inequality 
struck him with some force. He was at that age of 
a conversible temper, and insatiably curious in the 
aspects of life; and he spent much of his time 
scraping acquaintance v with all classes of man- and 
woman-kind. In this way he came upon many 
depressed ambitions, and many intelligences stunted 
for want of opportunity ; and this also struck him. 
He began to perceive that life was a handicap upon 
strange, wrong- sided principles ; and not, as he had 
been told, a fair and equal race. He began to 
tremble that he himself had been unjustly favoured, 
when he saw all the avenues of wealth, and power, 
and comfort closed against so many of his superiors 
and equals, and held unwearyingly open before so 
idle, so desultory, and so dissolute a being as himself. 
There sat a youth beside him on the college benches, 
who had only one shirt to his back, and, at intervals 
sufficiently far apart, must stay at home to have it 
washed. It was my friend's principle to stay away 
as often as he dared ; for I fear he was no friend to 
learning. But there was something that came home 
to him sharply, in this fellow who had to give over 
study till his shirt was washed, and the scores of 
others who had never an opportunity at all. If one 
of these could take his place, he thought ; and the 
thought tore away a bandage from his eyes. He 
was eaten by the shame of his discoveries, and 
despised himself as an unworthy favourite and a 
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creature of the back-stairs of Fortune. He could 
no longer see without confusion one of these brave 
young fellows battling up-hill against adversity. 
Had he not filched that fellow's birthright? At 
best was he not coldly profiting by the injustice of 
society, and greedily devouring stolen goods ? The 
money, indeed, belonged to his father, who had 
worked, and thought, and given up his liberty to 
earn it ; but by what justice could the money 
belong to my friend, who had, as yet, done nothing 
but help to squander it ? A more sturdy honesty, 
joined to a more even and impartial temperament, 
would have drawn from these considerations a new 
force of industry, that this equivocal position might 
be brought as swiftly as possible to an end, and 
some good services to mankind justify the appropria- 
tion of expense. It was not so with my friend, who 
was only unsettled and discouraged, and filled full 
of that trumpeting anger with which young men 
regard injustices in the first blush of youth ; although 
in a few years they will tamely acquiesce in their 
existence, and knowingly profit by their complica- 
tions. Yet all this while he suffered many indignant 
pangs. And once, when he put on his boots, like 
any other unripe donkey, to run away from home, it 
was his best consolation that he was now, at a single 
plunge, to free himself from the responsibility of 
this wealth that was not his, and do battle equally 
against his fellows in the warfare of life. 

Some time after this, falling into ill health, he 
was sent at great expense to a more favourable 

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climate; and then I think his perplexities were 
thickest. When he thought of all the other young 
men of singular promise, upright, good, the prop of 
families, who must remain at home to die, and with 
all their possibilities be lost to life and mankind ; 
and how he, by one more unmerited favour, was 
chosen out from all these others to survive ; he felt 
as if there were no life, no labour, no devotion of 
soul and body, that could repay and justify these 
partialities. A religious lady, to whom he com- 
municated these reflections, could see no force in 
them whatever. ' It was God's will,' said she. But 
he knew it was by God's will that Joan of Arc was 
burnt at Rouen, which cleared neither Bedford nor 
Bishop Cauchon ; and again, by God's will that 
Christ was crucified outside Jerusalem, which ex- 
cused neither the rancour of the priests nor the 
timidity of Pilate. He knew, moreover, that al- 
though the possibility of this favour he was now 
enjoying issued from his circumstances, its accept- 
ance was the act of his own will; and he had 
accepted it greedily, longing for rest and sunshine. 
And hence this allegation of God's providence did 
little to relieve his scruples. I promise you he had a 
very troubled mind. And I would not laugh if I were 
you, though while he was thus making mountains 
out of what you think molehills, he were still (as 
perhaps he was) contentedly practising many other 
things that to you seem black as hell. Every man 
is his own judge and mountain-guide through life. 
There is an old story of a mote and a beam, 

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apparently not true, but worthy perhaps of some con- 
sideration. I should, if I were you, give some 
consideration to these scruples of his, and if I were 
he, I should do the like by yours ; for it is not 
unlikely that there may be something under both. 
In the meantime you must hear how my friend 
acted. Like many invalids, he supposed that he 
would die. Now should he die, he saw no means of 
repaying this huge loan which, by the hands of his 
father, mankind had advanced him for his sickness. 
In that case it would be lost money. So he deter- 
mined that the advance should be as small as 
possible ; and, so long as he continued to doubt his 
recovery, lived in an upper room, and grudged him- 
self all but necessaries. But so soon as he began to 
perceive a change for the better, he felt justified in 
spending more freely, to speed and brighten his 
return to health, and trusted in the future to lend 
a help to mankind, as mankind, out of its treasury, 
had lent a help to him. 

I do not say but that my friend was a little too 
curious and partial in his view ; nor thought 
too much of himself and too little of his parents ; 
but I do say that here are some scruples which 
tormented my friend in his youth, and still, perhaps, 
at odd times give him a prick in the midst of his 
enjoyments, and which after all have some founda- 
tion in justice, and point, in their confused way, to 
some more honourable honesty within the reach of 
man. And at least, is not this an unusual gloss 
upon the eighth commandment ? And what sort of 

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comfort, guidance, or illumination did that precept 
afford my friend throughout these contentions? 
'Thou shalt not steal.' With all my heart! But 
am I stealing ? 

The truly quaint materialism of our view of 
life disables us from pursuing any transaction to an 
end. You can make no one understand that his 
bargain is anything more than a bargain, whereas in 
point of fact it is a link in the policy of mankind, 
and either a good or an evil to the world. We have 
a sort of blindness which prevents us from seeing 
anything but sovereigns. If one man agrees to give 
another so many shillings for so many hours' work, 
and then wilfully gives him a certain proportion of 
the price in bad money and only the remainder in 
good, we can see with half an eye that this man is a 
thief. But if the other spends a certain proportion 
of the hours in smoking a pipe of tobacco, and a 
certain other proportion in looking at the sky, or the 
clock, or trying to recall an air, or in meditation on 
his own past adventures, and only the remainder in 
downright work such as he is paid to do, is he, 
because the theft is one of time and not of money, 
— is he any the less a thief? The one gave a bad 
shilling, the other an imperfect hour ; but both 
broke the bargain, and each is a thief. In piece- 
work, which is what most of us do, the case is none 
the less plain for being even less material. If you 
forge a bad knife, you have wasted some of man- 
kind's iron, and then, with unrivalled cynicism, you 
pocket some of mankind's money for your trouble. 
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Is there any man so blind who cannot see that this 
is theft ? Again, if you carelessly cultivate a farm, 
you have been playing fast and loose with mankind's 
resources against hunger ; there will be less bread in 
consequence, and for lack of that bread somebody 
will die next winter : a grim consideration. And 
you must not hope to shuffle out of blame because 
you got less money for your less quantity of bread ; 
for although a theft be partly punished, it is none 
the less a theft for that. You took the farm 
against competitors ; there were others ready to 
shoulder the responsibility and be answerable for 
the tale of loaves ; but it was you who took it. By 
the act you came under a tacit bargain with man- 
kind to cultivate that farm with your best endeavour ; 
you were under no superintendence, you were on 
parole ; and you have broke your bargain, and to 
all who look closely, and yourself among the rest if 
you have moral eyesight, you are a thief. Or take 
the case of men of letters. Every piece of work 
which is not as good as you can make it, which you 
have palmed off imperfect, meagrely thought, nig- 
gardly in execution, upon mankind who is your 
paymaster on parole and in a sense your pupil, 
every hasty or slovenly or untrue performance, 
should rise up against you in the court of your own 
heart and condemn you for a thief. Have you a 
salary ? If you trifle with your health, and so render 
yourself less capable for duty, and still touch, and 
still greedily pocket the emolument — what are you 
but a thief? Have you double accounts ? do you by 

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any time-honoured juggle, deceit, or ambiguous 
process, gain more from those who deal with you 
than if you were bargaining and dealing face to face 
in front of God? — What are you but a thief? 
Lastly, if you fill an office, or produce an article, 
which, in your heart of hearts, you think a delusion 
and a fraud upon mankind, and still draw your 
salary and go through the sham manoeuvres of this 
office, or still book your profits and keep on flooding 
the world with these injurious goods ? — though you 
were old, and bald, and the first at church, and a 
baronet, what are you but a thief? These may 
seem hard words and mere curiosities of the intel- 
lect, in an age when the spirit of honesty is so 
sparingly cultivated that all business is conducted 
upon lies and so-called customs of the trade, that 
not a man bestows two thoughts on the utility or 
honourableness of his pursuit. I would say less if I 
thought less. But looking to my own reason and 
the right of things, I can only avow that I am a 
thief myself, and that I passionately suspect my 
neighbours of the same guilt. 

Where did you hear that it was easy to be honest ? 
Do you find that in your Bible ? Easy ? It is easy 
to be an ass and follow the multitude like a blind, 
besotted bull in a stampede ; and that, I am well 
aware, is what you and Mrs. Grundy mean by being 
honest. But it will not bear the stress of time nor 
the scrutiny of conscience. Even before the lowest 
of all tribunals, — before a court of law, whose business 
it is, not to keep men right, or within a thousand 
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miles of right, but to withhold them from going so 
tragically wrong that they will pull down the whole 
jointed fabric of society by their misdeeds — even 
before a court of law, as we begin to see in these 
last days, our easy view of following at each other's 
tails, alike to good and evil, is beginning to be re- 
proved and punished, and declared no honesty at 
all, but open theft and swindling ; and simpletons 
who have gone on through life with a quiet con- 
science may learn suddenly, from the lips of a judge, 
that the custom of the trade may be a custom of the 
devil. You thought it was easy to be honest. Did 
you think it was easy to be just and kind and 
truthful ? Did you think the whole duty of aspir- 
ing man was as simple as a hornpipe ? and you 
could walk through life like a gentleman and a 
hero, with no more concern than it takes to go to 
church or to address a circular? And yet all this 
time you had the eighth commandment ! and, what 
makes it richer, you would not have broken it for 
the world ! 

The truth is, that these commandments by them- 
selves are of little use in private judgment. If 
compression is what you want, you have their 
whole spirit compressed into the golden rule; and 
yet there expressed with more significance, since the 
law is there spiritually and not materially stated. 
And in truth, four out of these ten commands, from 
the sixth to the ninth, are rather legal than ethical. 
The police-court is their proper home. A magistrate 
cannot tell whether you love your neighbour as 

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yourself, but he can tell more or less whether you 
have murdered, or stolen, or committed adultery, or 
held up your hand and testified to that which was 
not ; and these things, for rough practical tests, are 
as good as can be found. And perhaps, therefore, 
the best condensation of the Jewish moral law is in 
the maxims of the priests, 'neminem lsedere' and 
'suum cuique tribunere.' But all this granted, it 
becomes only the more plain that they are inade- 
quate in the sphere of personal morality ; that while 
they tell the magistrate roughly when to punish, 
they can never direct an anxious sinner what to do. 

Only Polonius, or the like solemn sort of ass, 
can offer us a succinct proverb by way of advice, 
and not burst out blushing in our faces. We grant 
them one and all and for all that they are worth ; 
it is something above and beyond that we desire. 
Christ was in general a great enemy to such a 
way of teaching ; we rarely find him meddling 
with any of these plump commands but it was to 
open them out, and lift his hearers from the letter 
to the spirit. For morals are a personal affair; 
in the war of righteousness every man fights for 
his own hand ; all the six hundred precepts of the 
Mishna cannot shake my private judgment; my 
magistracy of myself is an indefeasible charge, and 
my decisions absolute for the time and case. The 
moralist is not a judge of appeal, but an advocate 
who pleads at my tribunal. He has to show not the 
law, but that the law applies. Can he convince me ? 
then he gains the cause. And thus you find Christ 
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giving various counsels to varying people, and often 
jealously careful to avoid definite precept. Is he 
asked, for example, to divide a heritage ? He refuses : 
and the best advice that he will offer is but a para- 
phrase of that tenth commandment which figures so 
strangely among the rest. Take heed, and beware 
of covetousness. If you complain that this is vague, 
I have failed to carry you along with me in my argu- 
ment. For no definite precept can be more than an 
illustration, though its truth were resplendent like 
the sun, and it was announced from heaven by the 
voice of God. And life is so intricate and changing, 
that perhaps not twenty times, or perhaps not twice 
in the ages, shall we find that nice consent of cir- 
cumstances to which alone it can apply. 



CHAPTER III 

Although the world and life have in a sense 
become commonplace to our experience, it is but in 
an external torpor; the true sentiment slumbers 
within us ; and we have but to reflect on ourselves 
or our surroundings to rekindle our astonishment. 
No length of habit can blunt our first surprise. Of 
the world I have but little to say in this connection ; 
a few strokes shall suffice. We inhabit a dead 
ember swimming wide in the blank of space, dizzily 
spinning as it swims, and lighted up from several 
million miles away by a more horrible hell-fire than 
was ever conceived by the theological imagination. 
21 — y 337 



LAY MORALS 

Yet the dead ember is a green, commodious dwelling- 
place ; and the reverberation of this hell-fire ripens 
flower and fruit and mildly warms us on summer eves 
upon the lawn. Far off on all hands other dead 
embers, other flaming suns, wheel and race in the 
apparent void ; the nearest is out of call, the farthest 
so far that the heart sickens in the effort to conceive 
the distance. Shipwrecked seamen on the deep, 
though they bestride but the truncheon of a boom, 
are safe and near at home compared with mankind 
on its bullet. Even to us who have known no 
other, it seems a strange, if not an appalling, place 
of residence. 

But far stranger is the resident, man, a creature 
compact of wonders that, after centuries of cus- 
tom, is still wonderful to himself. He inhabits a 
body which he is continually outliving, discarding 
and renewing. Food and sleep, by an unknown 
alchemy, restore his spirits and the freshness of his 
countenance. Hair grows on him like grass ; his 
eyes, his brain, his sinews, thirst for action ; he 
joys to see and touch and hear, to partake the sun 
and wind, to sit down and intently ponder on his 
astonishing attributes and situation, to rise up and 
run, to perform the strange and revolting round 
of physical functions. The sight of a flower, the 
note of a bird, will often move him deeply; yet 
he looks unconcerned on the impassable distances 
and portentous bonfires of the universe. He com- 
prehends, he designs, he tames nature, rides the sea, 
ploughs, climbs the air in a balloon, makes vast 
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inquiries, begins interminable labours, joins himself 
into federations and populous cities, spends his days 
to deliver the ends of the earth or to benefit unborn 
posterity ; and yet knows himself for a piece of un- 
surpassed fragility and the creature of a few days. 
His sight, which conducts him, which takes notice of 
the farthest stars, which is miraculous in every way 
and a thing defying explanation or belief, is yet 
lodged in a piece of jelly, and can be extinguished 
with a touch. His heart, which all through life so 
indomitably, so athletically labours, is but a capsule, 
and may be stopped with a pin. His whole body, for all 
its savage energies, its leaping and its winged desires, 
may yet be tamed and conquered by a draught of air 
or a sprinkling of cold dew. What he calls death, 
which is the seeming arrest of everything, and the 
ruin and hateful transformation of the visible body, 
lies in wait for him outwardly in a thousand accidents, 
and grows up in secret diseases from within. He is 
still learning to be a man when his faculties are 
already beginning to decline ; he has not yet under- 
stood himself or his position before he inevitably 
dies. And yet this mad, chimerical creature can 
take no thought of his last end, lives as though he 
were eternal, plunges with his vulnerable body into 
the shock of war, and daily affronts death with uncon- 
cern. He cannot take a step without pain or pleasure. 
His life is a tissue of sensations, which he distin- 
guishes as they seem to come more directly from 
himself or his surroundings. He is conscious of 
himself as a joyer or a sufferer, as that which craves, 

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chooses, and is satisfied ; conscious of his surround- 
ings as it were of an inexhaustible purveyor, the 
source of aspects, inspirations, wonders, cruel knocks 
and transporting caresses. Thus he goes on his way, 
stumbling among delights and agonies. 

Matter is a far-fetched theory, and materialism is 
without a root in man. To him everything is im- 
portant in the degree to which it moves him. The 
telegraph wires and posts, the electricity speeding 
from clerk to clerk, the clerks, the glad or sorrowful 
import of the message, and the paper on which it is 
finally brought to him at home, are all equally facts, 
all equally exist for man. A word or a thought can 
wound him as acutely as a knife of steel. If he 
thinks he is loved, he will rise up and glory to him- 
self, although he be in a distant land and short of 
necessary bread. Does he think he is not loved ? — 
he may have the woman at his beck, and there is not 
a joy for him in all the world. Indeed, if we are to 
make any account of this figment of reason, the dis- 
tinction between material and immaterial, we shall 
conclude that the life of each man as an individual is 
immaterial, although the continuation and prospects 
of mankind as a race turn upon material conditions. 
The physical business of each man's body is trans- 
acted for him ; like a sybarite, he has attentive valets 
in his own viscera ; he breathes, he sweats, he digests 
without an effort, or so much as a consenting volition ; 
for the most part he even eats, not with a wakeful 
consciousness, but as it were between two thoughts. 
His life is centred among other and more important 
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considerations ; touch him in his honour or his love, 
creatures of the imagination which attach him to 
mankind or to an individual man or woman ; cross 
him in his piety which connects his soul with heaven ; 
and he turns from his food, he loathes his breath, and 
with a magnanimous emotion cuts the knots of his 
existence and frees himself at a blow from the web 
of pains and pleasures. 

It follows that man is twofold at least ; that he is 
not a rounded and autonomous empire ; but that in 
the same body with him there dwell other powers, 
tributary but independent. If I now behold one 
walking in a garden, curiously coloured and illumin- 
ated by the sun, digesting his food with elaborate 
chemistry, breathing, circulating blood, directing 
himself by the sight of his eyes, accommodating his 
body by a thousand delicate balancings to the wind 
and the uneven surface of the path, and all the time, 
perhaps, with his mind engaged about America, or 
the dog-star, or the attributes of God — what am I 
to say, or how am I to describe the thing I see ? 
Is that truly a man, in the rigorous meaning of the 
word? or is it not a man and something else? 
What, then, are we to count the centre-bit and axle 
of a being so variously compounded ? It is a ques- 
tion much debated. Some read his history in a 
certain intricacy of nerve and the success of succes- 
sive digestions ; others find him an exiled piece of 
heaven blown upon and determined by the breath 
of God ; and both schools of theorists will scream like 
scalded children at a word of doubt. Yet either of 

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these views, however plausible, is beside the ques- 
tion ; either may be right ; and I care not ; I ask a 
more particular answer, and to a more immediate 
point. What is the man ? There is Something that 
was before hunger and that remains behind after a 
meal. It may or may not be engaged in any given 
act or passion, but when it is, it changes, heightens, 
and sanctifies. Thus it is not engaged in lust, where 
satisfaction ends the chapter ; and it is engaged in 
love, where no satisfaction can blunt the edge of 
the desire, and where age, sickness, or alienation 
may deface what was desirable without diminishing 
the sentiment. This something, which is the man, is 
a permanence which abides through the vicissitudes 
of passion, now overwhelmed and now triumphant, 
now unconscious of itself in the immediate distress 
of appetite or pain, now rising unclouded above all. 
So, to the man, his own central self fades and grows 
clear again amid the tumult of the senses, like a 
revolving Pharos in the night. It is forgotten ; it is 
hid, it seems, for ever; and yet in the next calm 
hour he shall behold himself once more, shining and 
unmoved among changes and storm. 

Mankind, in the sense of the creeping mass that is 
born and eats, that generates and dies, is but the 
aggregate of the outer and lower sides of man. This 
inner consciousness, this lantern alternately obscured 
and shining, to and by which the individual exists 
and must order his conduct, is something special to 
himself and not common to the race. His joys 
delight, his sorrows wound him, according as this 
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is interested or indifferent in the affair ; according 
as they arise in an imperial war or in a broil con- 
ducted by the tributary chieftains of the mind. He 
may lose all, and this not suffer ; he may lose what 
is materially a trifle, and this leap in his bosom with 
a cruel pang. I do not speak of it to hardened 
theorists : the living man knows keenly what it is 
I mean. 

'Perceive at last that thou hast in thee something 
better and more divine than the things which cause 
the Tarious effects, and, as it were, pull thee by the 
strings. What is that now in thy mind ? is it fear, 
or suspicion, or desire, or anything of that kind ? ' 
Thus far Marcus Aurelius, in one of the most 
notabb passages in any book. Here is a question 
worthy to be answered. What is in thy mind? 
What is the utterance of your inmost self when, in 
a quiet hour, it can be heard intelligibly ? It is 
something beyond the compass of your thinking, 
inasmuch as it is yourself ; but is it not of a higher 
spirit than you had dreamed betweenwhiles, and 
erec: above all base considerations ? This soul seems 
hardy touched with our infirmities ; we can find in 
it certainly no fear, suspicion, or desire ; we are only 
comcious — and that as though we read it in the 
eyes of some one else — of a great and unqualified 
realiness. A readiness to what ? to pass over and 
lootc beyond the objects of desire and fear, for 
sonething else. And this something else? this 
something which is apart from desire and fear, to 
wlich all the kingdoms of the world and the im- 

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mediate death of the body are alike indifferent and 
beside the point, and which yet regards conduct — by 
what name are we to call it ? It may be the love of 
God ; or it may be an inherited (and certainly well 
concealed) instinct to preserve self and propagate the 
race; I am not, for the moment, averse to either 
theory; but it will save time to call it righteous- 
ness. By so doing I intend no subterfuge to beg a 
question ; I am indeed ready, and more than willing, 
to accept the rigid consequence, and lay aside, as far 
as the treachery of the reason will permit, all former 
meanings attached to the word righteousness. What 
is right is that for which a man's central self is ever 
ready to sacrifice immediate or distant interests ; 
what is wrong is what the central self discards or 
rejects as incompatible with the fixed desjgn of 
righteousness. 

To make this admission is to lay aside all hope 
of definition. That which is right upon this theory 
is intimately dictated to each man by himself, but 
can never be rigorously set forth in language, and 
never, above all, imposed upon another. The con- 
science has, then, a vision like that of the eyes, 
which is incommunicable, and for the most jart 
illuminates none but its possessor. When mmy 
people perceive the same or any cognate facts, t^ey 
agree upon a word as symbol ; and hence we h^ve 
such words as tree, star, love, honour, or death ; heijce 
also we have this word right, which, like the others, 
we all understand, most of us understand differently, 
and none can express succinctly otherwise. Ypt 
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even on the straitest view, we can make some steps 
towards comprehension of our own superior thoughts. 
For it is an incredible and most bewildering fact 
that a man, through life, is on variable terms with 
himself; he is aware of tiffs and reconciliations; 
the intimacy is at times almost suspended, at times 
it is renewed again with joy. As we said before, 
his inner self or soul appears to him by successive 
revelations, and is frequently obscured. It is from a 
study of these alternations that we can alone hope 
to discover, even dimly, what seems right and what 
seems wrong to this veiled prophet of ourself. 

All that is in the man in the larger sense, what 
we call impression as well as what we call intuition, 
so far as my argument looks, we must accept. It 
is not wrong to desire food, or exercise, or beautiful 
surroundings, or the love of sex, or interest which is 
the food of the mind. All these are craved ; all 
these should be craved ; to none of these in itself 
does the soul demur ; where there comes an un- 
deniable want, we recognise a demand of nature. 
Yet we know that these natural demands may be 
superseded ; for the demands which are common to 
mankind make but a shadowy consideration in com- 
parison to the demands of the individual soul. Food 
is almost the first prerequisite ; and yet a high 
character will go without food to the ruin and death 
of the body rather than gain it in a manner which 
the spirit disavows. Pascal laid aside mathematics ; 
Origen doctored his body with a knife ; every day 
some one is thus mortifying his dearest interests 

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and desires, and, in Christ's words, entering maim 
into the Kingdom of Heaven. This is to supersede 
the lesser and less harmonious affections by renuncia- 
tion ; and though by this ascetic path we may get 
to heaven, we cannot get thither a whole and per- 
fect man. But there is another way, to supersede 
them by reconciliation, in which the soul and all the 
faculties and senses pursue a common route and 
share in one desire. Thus, man is tormented by a 
very imperious physical desire ; it spoils his rest, it 
is not to be denied ; the doctors will tell you, not I, 
how it is a physical need, like the want of food or 
slumber. In the satisfaction of this desire, as it first 
appears, the soul sparingly takes part; nay, it oft 
unsparingly regrets and disapproves the satisfaction. 
But let the man learn to love a woman as far as he 
is capable of love ; and for this random affection of 
the body there is substituted a steady determination, 
a consent of all his powers and faculties, which 
supersedes, adopts, and commands the other. The 
desire survives, strengthened, perhaps, but taught 
obedience, and changed in scope and character. 
Life is no longer a tale of betrayals and regrets ; 
for the man now lives as a whole; his conscious- 
ness now moves on uninterrupted like a river ; 
through all the extremes and ups and downs of 
passion, he remains approvingly conscious of himself. 
Now to me, this seems a type of that rightness 
which the soul demands. It demands that we shall 
not live alternately with our opposing tendencies in 
continual see-saw of passion and disgust, but seek 
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some path on which the tendencies shall no longer 
oppose, but serve each other to a common end. It 
demands that we shall not pursue broken ends, but 
great and comprehensive purposes, in which soul and 
body may unite like notes in a harmonious chord. 
That were indeed a way of peace and pleasure, that 
were indeed a heaven upon earth. It does not 
demand, however, or, to speak in measure, it does 
not demand of me, that I should starve my appetites 
for no purpose under heaven but as a purpose in 
itself; or, in a weak despair, pluck out the eye that 
I have not yet learned to guide and enjoy with 
wisdom. The soul demands unity of purpose, not 
the dismemberment of man ; it seeks to roll up all 
his strength and sweetness, all his passion and 
wisdom, into one, and make of him a perfect man 
exulting in perfection. To conclude ascetically is 
to give up, and not to solve, the problem. The 
ascetic and the creeping hog, although they are at 
different poles, have equally failed in life. The one 
has sacrificed his crew ; the other brings back his 
seamen in a cock-boat, and has lost the ship. I 
believe there are not many sea-captains who would 
plume themselves on either result as a success. 

But if it is righteousness thus to fuse together our 
divisive impulses and march with one mind through 
life, there is plainly one thing more unrighteous than 
all others, and one declension which is irretrievable 
and draws on the rest. And this is to lose con- 
sciousness of oneself. In the best of times, it is 
but by flashes, when our whole nature is clear, strong 

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and conscious, and events conspire to leave us free, 
that we enjoy communion with our soul. At the 
worst, we are so fallen and passive that we may- 
say shortly we have none. An arctic torpor seizes 
upon men. Although built of nerves, and set adrift 
in a stimulating world, they develop a tendency to 
go bodily to sleep ; consciousness becomes engrossed 
among the reflex and mechanical parts of life ; and 
soon loses both the will and power to look higher 
considerations in the face. This is ruin ; this is 
the last failure in life ; this is temporal damnation, 
damnation on the spot and without the form of 
judgment. ' What shall it profit a man if he gain 
the whole world and lose himself '? ' 

It is to keep a man awake, to keep him alive to 
his own soul and its fixed design of righteousness, 
that the better part of moral and religious education 
is directed ; not only that of words and doctors, but 
the sharp ferule of calamity under which we are all 
God's scholars till we die. If, as teachers, we are 
to say anything to the purpose, we must say what 
will remind the pupil of his soul ; we must speak 
that soul's dialect ; we must talk of life and conduct 
as his soul would have him think of them. If, from 
some conformity between us and the pupil, or perhaps 
among all men, we do in truth speak in such a dialect 
and express such views, beyond question we shall 
touch in him a spring ; beyond question he will re- 
cognise the dialect as one that he himself has spoken 
in his better hours ; beyond question he will cry, ' I 
had forgotten, but now I remember ; I too have 
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eyes, and I had forgot to use them ! I too have a 
soul of my own, arrogantly upright, and to that I 
will listen and conform.' In short, say to him any- 
thing that he has once thought, or been upon the 
point of thinking, or show him any view of life 
that he has once clearly seen, or been upon the 
point of clearly seeing ; and you have done your 
part and may leave him to complete the education 
for himself. 

Now the view taught at the present time seems 
to me to want greatness ; and the dialect in which 
alone it can be intelligibly uttered is not the dialect 
of my soul. It is a sort of postponement of life ; 
nothing quite is, but something different is to be ; 
we are to keep our eyes upon the indirect from the 
cradle to the grave. We are to regulate our conduct 
not by desire, but by a politic eye upon the future ; 
and to value acts as they will bring us money or 
good opinion ; as they will bring us, in one word, 
profit. We must be what is called respectable, and 
offend no one by our carriage ; it will not do to make 
oneself conspicuous — who knows? even in virtue? 
says the Christian parent ! And we must be what 
is called prudent and make money ; not only because 
it is pleasant to have money, but because that also is 
a part of respectability, and we cannot hope to be 
received in society without decent possessions. Re- 
ceived in society ! as if that were the kingdom of 
heaven! There is dear Mr. So-and-so ; — look at 
him ! — so much respected — so much looked up to — 
quite the Christian merchant! And we must cut 

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our conduct as strictly as possible after the pattern 
of Mr. So-and-so ; and lay our whole lives to make 
money and be strictly decent. Besides these holy 
injunctions, which form by far the greater part of 
a youth's training in our Christian homes, there are 
at least two other doctrines. We are to live just 
now as well as we can, but scrape at last into heaven, 
where we shall be good. We are to worry through 
the week in a lay, disreputable way, but, to make 
matters square, live a different life on Sunday. 

The train of thought we have been following gives 
us a key to all these positions, without stepping 
aside to justify them on their own ground. It is 
because we have been disgusted fifty times with 
physical squalls, and fifty times torn between con- 
flicting impulses, that we teach people this indirect 
and tactical procedure in life, and to judge by remote 
consequences instead of the immediate face of things. 
The very desire to act as our own souls would have 
us, coupled with a pathetic disbelief in ourselves, 
moves us to follow the example of others ; perhaps, 
who knows ? they may be on the right track; and the 
more our patterns are in number, the better seems 
the chance ; until, if we be acting in concert with 
a whole civilised nation, there are surely a majority 
of chances that we must be acting right. And again, 
how true it is that we can never behave as we wish in 
this tormented sphere, and can only aspire to different 
and more favourable circumstances, in order to stand 
out and be ourselves wholly and rightly ! And yet 
once more, if in the hurry and pressure of affairs and 
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LAY MORALS 

passions you tend to nod and become drowsy, here 
are twenty -four hours of Sunday set apart for you 
to hold counsel with your soul and look around 
you on the possibilities of life. 

This is not, of course, all that is to be, or even 
should be, said for these doctrines. Only, in the 
course of this chapter, the reader and I have agreed 
upon a few catchwords, and been looking at morals 
on a certain system ; it was a pity to lose an oppor- 
tunity of testing the catchwords, and seeing whether, 
by this system as well as by others, current doctrines 
could show any probable justification. If the doc- 
trines had come too badly out of the trial, it would 
have condemned the system. Our sight of the 
world is very narrow ; the mind but a pedestrian 
instrument; there's nothing new under the sun, as 
Solomon says, except the man himself; and though 
that changes the aspect of everything else, yet he 
must see the same things as other people, only from 
a different side. 

And now, having admitted so much, let us turn 
to criticism. 

If you teach a man to keep his eyes upon what 
others think of him, unthinkingly to lead the life 
and hold the principles of the majority of his con- 
temporaries, you must discredit in his eyes the one 
authoritative voice of his own soul. He may be a 
docile citizen ; he will never be a man. It is ours, 
on the other hand, to disregard this babble and chat- 
tering of other men better and worse than we are, 
and to walk straight before us by what light we 

35i 



LAY MORALS 

have. They may be right ; but so, before heaven, 
are we. They may know ; but we know also, and 
by that knowledge we must stand or fall. There is 
such a thing as loyalty to a man's own better self; 
and from those who have not that, God help me, 
how am I to look for loyalty to others ? The most 
dull, the most imbecile, at a certain moment turn 
round, at a certain point will hear no further argu- 
ment, but stand unflinching by their own dumb, 
irrational sense of right. It is not only by steel 
or fire, but through contempt and blame, that the 
martyr fulfils the calling of his dear soul. Be glad 
if you are not tried by such extremities. But 
although all the world ranged themselves in one 
line to tell you ' This is wrong,' be you your own 
faithful vassal and the ambassador of God — throw 
down the glove and answer 'This is right.' Do you 
think you are only declaring yourself? Perhaps in 
some dim way, like a child who delivers a message 
not fully understood, you are opening wider the straits 
of prejudice and preparing mankind for some truer 
and more spiritual grasp of truth ; perhaps, as you 
stand forth for your own judgment, you are covering 
a thousand weak ones with your body ; perhaps, by 
this declaration alone, you have avoided the guilt of 
false witness against humanity and the little ones 
unborn. It is good, I believe, to be respectable, but 
much nobler to respect oneself and utter the voice 
of God. God, if there be any God, speaks daily in 
a new language by the tongues of men ; the thoughts 
and habits of each fresh generation and each new- 
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coined spirit throw another light upon the universe 
and contain another commentary on the printed 
Bibles ; every scruple, every true dissent, every 
glimpse of something new, is a letter of God's alpha- 
bet ; and though there is a grave responsibility for all 
who speak, is there none for those who unrighteously 
keep silence and conform ? Is not that also to con- 
ceal and cloak God's counsel ? And how should we 
regard the man of science who suppressed all facts 
that would not tally with the orthodoxy of the hour? 
Wrong? You are as surely wrong as the sun 
rose this morning round the revolving shoulder of 
the world. Not truth, but truthfulness, is the good 
of your endeavour. For when will men receive that 
first part and prerequisite of truth, that, by the 
order of things, by the greatness of the universe, by 
the darkness and partiality of man's experience, by 
the inviolate secrecy of God, kept close in His most 
open revelations, every man is, and to the end of 
the ages must be, wrong ? Wrong to the universe ; 
wrong to mankind; wrong to God. And yet in 
another sense, and that plainer and nearer, every 
man of men, who wishes truly, must be right. He 
is right to himself, and in the measure of his sagacity 
and candour. That let him do in all sincerity and 
zeal, not sparing a thought for contrary opinions ; 
that, for what it is worth, let him proclaim. Be not 
afraid; although he be wrong, so also is the dead, 
stuffed Dagon he insults. For the voice of God, 
whatever it is, is not that stammering, inept tradi- 
tion which the people holds. These truths survive 
21— z 353 



LAY MORALS 

in travesty, swamped in a world of spiritual dark- 
ness and confusion ; and what a few comprehend 
and faithfully hold, the many, in their dead jargon, 
repeat, degrade, and misinterpret. 

So far of Respectability : what the Covenanters 
used to call ' rank conformity ' : the deadliest gag 
and wet blanket that can be laid on men. And 
now of Profit. And this doctrine is perhaps the 
more redoubtable, because it harms all sorts of men ; 
not only the heroic and self-reliant, but the obedient, 
cowlike squadrons. A man, by this doctrine, looks 
to consequences at the second, or third, or fiftieth 
turn. He chooses his end, and for that, with wily 
turns and through a great sea of tedium, steers this 
mortal bark. There may be political wisdom in 
such a view ; but I am persuaded there can spring 
no great moral zeal. To look thus obliquely upon 
life is the very recipe for moral slumber. Our in- 
tention and endeavour should be directed, not on 
some vague end of money or applause, which shall 
come to us by a ricochet in a month or a year, or 
twenty years, but on the act itself; not on the 
approval of others, but on the rightness of that act. 
At every instant, at every step in life, the point 
has to be decided, our soul has to be saved, heaven 
has to be gained or lost. At every step our spirits 
must applaud, at every step we must set down the 
foot and sound the trumpet. 'This have I done,' 
we must say ; ' right or wrong, this have I done, in 
unfeigned honour of intention, as to myself and 
God.' The profit of every act should be this, that it 
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LAY MORALS 

was right for us to do it. Any other profit than that, 
if it involved a kingdom or the woman I love, ought, 
if I were God's upright soldier, to leave me un tempted. 

It is the mark of what we call a righteous decision, 
that it is made directly and for its own sake. The 
whole man, mind and body, having come to an 
agreement, tyrannically dictates conduct. There are 
two dispositions eternally opposed : that in which 
we recognise that one thing is wrong and another 
right, and that in which, not seeing any clear dis- 
tinction, we fall back on the consideration of con- 
sequences. The truth is, by the scope of our present 
teaching, nothing is thought very wrong and nothing 
very right, except a few actions which have the dis- 
advantage of being disrespectable when found out ; 
the more serious part of men inclining to think all 
things rather wrong, the more jovial to suppose them 
right enough for practical purposes. I will engage 
my head, they do not find that view in their own 
hearts ; they have taken it up in a dark despair ; 
they are but troubled sleepers talking in their sleep. 
The soul, or my soul at least, thinks very distinctly 
upon many points of right and wrong, and often 
differs flatly with what is held out as the thought of 
corporate humanity in the code of society or the code 
of law. Am I to suppose myself a monster? I 
have only to read books, the Christian Gospels for 
example, to think myself a monster no longer ; and 
instead I think the mass of people are merely speak- 
ing in their sleep. 

It is a commonplace, enshrined, if I mistake not, 

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even in school copy-books, that honour is to be 
sought and not fame. I ask no other admission ; 
we are to seek honour, upright walking with our 
own conscience every hour of the day, and not fame, 
the consequence, the far-off reverberation of our foot- 
steps. The walk, not the rumour of the walk, is 
what concerns righteousness. Better disrespectable 
honour than dishonourable fame. Better useless 
or seemingly hurtful honour, than dishonour ruling 
empires and filling the mouths of thousands. For 
the man must walk by what he sees, and leave the 
issue with God who made him and taught him by 
the fortune of his life. You would not dishonour 
yourself for money ; which is at least tangible ; 
would you do it, then, for a doubtful forecast in 
politics, or another person's theory in morals ? 

So intricate is the scheme of our affairs, that no 
man can calculate the bearing of his own behaviour 
even on those immediately around him, how much 
less upon the world at large or on succeeding genera- 
tions ! To walk by external prudence and the rule 
of consequences would require, not a man, but 
God. All that we know to guide us in this chang- 
ing labyrinth is our soul with its fixed design of 
righteousness, and a few old precepts which com- 
mend themselves to that. The precepts are vague 
when we endeavour to apply them ; consequences 
are more entangled than a wisp of string, and their 
confusion is unrestingly in change ; we must hold to 
what we know and walk by it. We must walk by 
faith, indeed, and not by knowledge. 
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You do not love another because he is wealthy or 
wise or eminently respectable : you love him because 
you love him ; that is love, and any other only a 
derision and grimace. It should be the same with 
all our actions. If we were to conceive a perfect 
man, it should be one who was never torn between 
conflicting impulses, but who, on the absolute con- 
sent of all his parts and faculties, submitted in every 
action of his life to a self-dictation as absolute and 
unreasoned as that which bids him love one woman 
and be true to her till death. But we should not 
conceive him as sagacious, ascetical, playing off his 
appetites against each other, turning the wing of 
public respectable immorality instead of riding it 
directly down, or advancing toward his end through 
a thousand sinister compromises and considerations. 
The one man might be wily, might be adroit, might 
be wise, might be respectable, might be gloriously 
useful ; it is the other man who would be good. 

The soul asks honour and not fame ; to be upright, 
not to be successful ; to be good, not prosperous ; to 
be essentially, not outwardly, respectable. Does your 
soul ask profit ? Does it ask money ? Does it ask 
the approval of the indifferent herd ? I believe not. 
For my own part, I want but little money, I hope ; 
and I do not want to be decent at all, but to be 
good. 



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CHAPTER IV 



We have spoken of that supreme self-dictation which 
keeps varying from hour to hour in its dictates with 
the variation of events and circumstances. Now, 
for us, that is ultimate. It may be founded on some 
reasonable process, but it is not a process which we 
can follow or comprehend. And moreover the dic- 
tation is not continuous, or not continuous except 
in very lively and well-living natures ; and between- 
whiles we must brush along without it. Practice is 
a more intricate and desperate business than the 
toughest theorising ; life is an affair of cavalry, where 
rapid judgment and prompt action are alone possible 
and right. As a matter of fact, there is no one so 
upright but he is influenced by the world's chatter ; 
and no one so headlong but he requires to consider 
consequences and to keep an eye on profit. For the 
soul adopts all affections and appetites without ex- 
ception, and cares only to combine them for some 
common purpose which shall interest all. Now 
respect for the opinion of others, the study of con- 
sequences and the desire of power and comfort, are 
all undeniably factors in the nature of man ; and the 
more undeniably since we find that, in our current 
doctrines, they have swallowed up the others and 
are thought to conclude in themselves all the worthy 
parts of man. These, then, must also be suffered to 
affect conduct in the practical domain, much or little 

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according as they are forcibly or feebly present to the 
mind of each. 

Now a man's view of the universe is mostly a view 
of the civilised society in which he lives. Other men 
and women are so much more grossly and so much 
more intimately palpable to his perceptions, that they 
stand between him and all the rest ; they are larger 
to his eye than the sun, he hears them more plainly 
than thunder ; with them, by them, and for them, he 
must live and die. And hence the laws that affect 
his intercourse with his fellow-men, although merely 
customary and the creatures of a generation, are more 
clearly and continually before his mind than those 
which bind him into the eternal system of things, 
support him in his upright progress on this whirling 
ball, or keep up the fire of his bodily life. And 
hence it is that money stands in the first rank of 
considerations and so powerfully affects the choice. 
For our society is built with money for mortar; 
money is present in every joint of circumstance ; it 
might be named the social atmosphere, since, in 
society, it is by that alone that men continue to live, 
and only through that or chance that they can reach 
or affect one another. Money gives us food, shelter, 
and privacy ; it permits us to be clean in person, 
opens for us the doors of the theatre, gains us books 
for study or pleasure, enables us to help the distresses 
of others, and puts us above necessity so that we can 
choose the best in life. If we love, it enables us to 
meet and live with the loved one, or even to prolong 
her health and life ; if we have scruples, it gives us 

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an opportunity to be honest ; if we have any bright 
designs, here is what will smooth the way to their 
accomplishment. Penury is the worst slavery, and 
will soon lead to death. 

But money is only a means ; it presupposes a man 
to use it. The rich can go where he pleases, but 
perhaps please himself nowhere. He can buy a 
library or visit the whole world, but perhaps has 
neither patience to read nor intelligence to see. The 
table may be loaded and the appetite wanting ; the 
purse may be full, and the heart empty. He may 
have gained the world and lost himself; and with all 
his wealth around him, in a great house and spacious 
and beautiful demesne, he may live as blank a life as 
any tattered ditcher. Without an appetite, without 
an aspiration, void of appreciation, bankrupt of de- 
sire and hope, there, in his great house, let him sit 
and look upon his fingers. It is perhaps a more for- 
tunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells 
than to be born a millionaire. Although neither is 
to be despised, it is always better policy to learn an 
interest than to make a thousand pounds ; for the 
money will soon be spent, or perhaps you may feel 
no joy in spending it ; but the interest remains im- 
perishable and ever new. To become a botanist, a 
geologist, a social philosopher, an antiquary, or an 
artist, is to enlarge one's possessions in the universe 
by an incalculably higher degree, and by a far surer 
sort of property, than to purchase a farm of many 
acres. You had perhaps two thousand a year before 
the transaction ; perhaps you have two thousand five 
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LAY MORALS 

hundred after it. That represents your gain in the 
one case. But in the other, you have thrown down 
a barrier which concealed significance and beauty. 
The blind man has learned to see. The prisoner has 
opened up a window in his cell and beholds enchant- 
ing prospects ; he will never again be a prisoner as 
he was ; he can watch clouds and changing seasons, 
ships on the river, travellers on the road, and the stars 
at night ; happy prisoner ! his eyes have broken jail ! 
And again he who has learned to love an art or 
science has wisely laid up riches against the day 
of riches ; if prosperity come, he will not enter poor 
into his inheritance ; he will not slumber and forget 
himself in the lap of money, or spend his hours in 
counting idle treasures, but be up and briskly doing ; 
he will have the true alchemic touch, which is not 
that of Midas, but which transmutes dead money 
into living delight and satisfaction. Eire et pas 
avoir — to be, not to possess — that is the problem 
of life. To be wealthy, a rich nature is the first 
requisite and money but the second. To be of a 
quick and healthy blood, to share in all honourable 
curiosities, to be rich in admiration and free from 
envy, to rejoice greatly in the good of others, to 
love with such generosity of heart that your love is 
still a dear possession in absence or unkindness — 
these are the gifts of fortune which money cannot 
buy and without which money can buy nothing. 
For what can a man possess, or what can he enjoy, 
except himself? If he enlarge his nature, it is then 
that he enlarges his estates. If his nature be happy 

361 



LAY MORALS 

and valiant, he will enjoy the universe as if it were 
his park and orchard. 

But money is not only to be spent; it has also 
to be earned. It is not merely a convenience or a 
necessary in social life ; but it is the coin in which 
mankind pays his wages to the individual man. And 
from this side, the question of money has a very 
different scope and application. For no man can 
be honest who does not work. Service for service. 
If the farmer buys corn, and the labourer ploughs 
and reaps, and the baker sweats in his hot bakery, 
plainly you who eat must do something in your 
turn. It is not enough to take off your hat, or 
to thank God upon your knees for the admirable 
constitution of society and your own convenient 
situation in its upper and more ornamental stories, 
Neither is it enough to buy the loaf with a sixpence ; 
for then you are only changing the point of the 
inquiry ; and you must first have bought the sixpence. 
Service for service : how have you bought your 
sixpences ? A man of spirit desires certainty in 
a thing of such a nature; he must see to it that 
there is some reciprocity between him and man- 
kind ; that he pays his expenditure in service ; that 
he has not a lion's share in profit and a drone's in 
labour; and is not a sleeping partner and mere 
costly incubus on the great mercantile concern of 
mankind. 

Services differ so widely with different gifts, and 
some are so inappreciable to external tests, that this 
is not only a matter for the private conscience, but 
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one which even there must be leniently and trust- 
fully considered. For remember how many serve 
mankind who do no more than meditate ; and how 
many are precious to their friends for no more than 
a sweet and joyous temper. To perform the function 
of a man of letters it is not necessary to write ; nay, 
it is perhaps better to be a living book. So long as 
we love we serve ; so long as we are loved by others, 
I would almost say that we are indispensable ; and 
no man is useless while he has a friend. The true 
services of life are inestimable in money, and are 
never paid. Kind words and caresses, high and wise 
thoughts, humane designs, tender behaviour to the 
weak and suffering, and all the charities of man's 
existence, are neither bought nor sold. 

Yet the dearest and readiest, if not the most just, 
criterion of a man's services, is the wage that man- 
kind pays him or, briefly, what he earns. There at 
least there can be no ambiguity. St. Paul is fully 
and freely entitled to his earnings as a tentmaker, 
and Socrates fully and freely entitled to his earnings 
as a sculptor, although the true business of each 
was not only something different, but something 
which remained unpaid. A man cannot forget that 
he is not superintended, and serves mankind on 
parole. He would like, when challenged by his 
own conscience, to reply : ' I have done so much 
work, and no less, with my own hands and brain, 
and taken so much profit, and no more, for my own 
personal delight.' And though St. Paul, if he had 
possessed a private fortune, would probably have 

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scorned to waste his time in making tents, yet of 
all sacrifices to public opinion none can be more 
easily pardoned than that by which a man, already 
spiritually useful to the world, should restrict the 
field of his chief usefulness to perform services 
more apparent, and possess a livelihood that neither 
stupidity nor malice could call in question. Like 
all sacrifices to public opinion and mere external 
decency, this would certainly be wrong ; for the soul 
should rest contented with its own approval and in- 
dissuadably pursue its own calling. Yet, so grave 
and delicate is the question, that a man may well 
hesitate before he decides it for himself; he may 
well fear that he sets too high a valuation on his 
own endeavours after good ; he may well condescend 
upon a humbler duty, where others than himself shall 
judge the service and proportion the wage. 

And yet it is to this very responsibility that the 
rich are born. They can shuffle off the duty on no 
other ; they are their own paymasters on parole ; and 
must pay themselves fair wages and no more. For 
I suppose that in the course of ages, and through 
reform and civil war and invasion, mankind was 
pursuing some other and more general design than 
to set one or two Englishmen of the nineteenth 
century beyond the reach of needs and duties. 
Society was scarce put together, and defended with 
so much eloquence and blood, for the convenience 
of two or three millionaires and a few hundred other 
persons of wealth and position. It is plain that if 
mankind thus acted and suffered during all these 
364 



LAY MORALS 

generations, they hoped some benefit, some ease, some 
wellbeing, for themselves and their descendants ; 
that if they supported law and order, it was to 
secure fair-play for all ; that if they denied them- 
selves in the present, they must have had some 
designs upon the future. Now a great hereditary 
fortune is a miracle of man's wisdom and mankind's 
forbearance; it has not only been amassed and 
handed down, it has been suffered to be amassed 
and handed down ; and surely in such a considera- 
tion as this, its possessor should find only a new spur 
to activity and honour, that with all this power of 
service he should not prove unserviceable, and that 
this mass of treasure should return in benefits upon 
the race. If he had twenty, or thirty, or a hundred 
thousand at his banker's, or if all Yorkshire or all 
California were his to manage or to sell, he would 
still be morally penniless, and have the world to 
begin like Whittington, until he had found some 
way of serving mankind. His wage is physically in 
his own hand ; but, in honour, that wage must still 
be earned. He is only steward on parole of what is 
called his fortune. He must honourably perform his 
stewardship. He must estimate his own services and 
allow himself a salary in proportion, for that will be 
one among his functions. And while he will then 
be free to spend that salary, great or little, on his 
own private pleasures, the rest of his fortune he but 
holds and disposes under trust for mankind ; it is 
not his, because he has not earned it ; it cannot be 
his, because his services have already been paid ; but 

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year by year it is his to distribute, whether to help 
individuals whose birthright and outfit have been 
swallowed up in his, or to further public works 
and institutions. 

At this rate, short of inspiration, it seems hardly 
possible to be both rich and honest; and the million- 
aire is under a far more continuous temptation to 
thieve than the labourer who gets his shilling daily 
for despicable toils. Are you surprised? It is 
even so. And you repeat it every Sunday in your 
churches. ' It is easier for a camel to pass through 
the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the 
kingdom of God.' I have heard this and similar 
texts ingeniously explained away and brushed from 
the path of the aspiring Christian by the tender 
Great-heart of the parish. One excellent clergyman 
told us that the 'eye of a needle' meant a low, 
Oriental postern through which camels could not 
pass till they were unloaded — which is very likely 
just; and then went on, bravely confounding the 
' kingdom of God ' with heaven, the future paradise, 
to show that of course no rich person could expect 
to carry his riches beyond the grave — which, of 
course, he could not and never did. Various greedy 
sinners of the congregation drank in the comfortable 
doctrine with relief. It was worth the while having 
come to church that Sunday morning ! All was 
plain. The Bible, as usual, meant nothing in par- 
ticular ; it was merely an obscure and figurative 
school-copybook ; and if a man were only respect- 
able, he was a man after God's own heart. 
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Alas ! I fear not. And though this matter of a 
man's services is one for his own conscience, there 
are "some cases in which it is difficult to restrain the 
mind from judging. Thus I shall be very easily 
persuaded that a man has earned his daily bread; 
and if he has but a friend or two to whom his com- 
pany is delightful at heart, I am more than persuaded 
at once. But it will be very hard to persuade me 
that any one has earned an income of a hundred 
thousand. What he is to his friends, he still would 
be if he were made penniless to-morrow ; for as to 
the courtiers of luxury and power, I will neither 
consider them friends, nor indeed consider them at 
all. What he does for mankind there are most 
likely hundreds who would do the same, as effectually 
for the race and as pleasurably to themselves, for the 
merest fraction of this monstrous wage. Why it is 
paid, I am, therefore, unable to conceive, and as the 
man pays it himself, out of funds in his detention, I 
have a certain backwardness to think him honest. 

At least, we have gained a very obvious point : 
that what a man spends upon himself, he shall have 
earned by services to the race. Thence flows a 
principle for the outset of life, which is a little 
different from that taught in the present day. I 
am addressing the middle and the upper classes ; 
those who have already been fostered and prepared 
for life at some expense; those who have some 
choice before them, and can pick professions ; and 
above all, those who are what is called independent, 
and need do nothing unless pushed by honour or 

367 



LAY MORALS 

ambition. In this particular the poor are happy; 
among them, when a lad comes to his strength, he 
must take the work that offers, and can take it with 
an easy conscience. But in the richer classes the 
question is complicated by the number of oppor- 
tunities and a variety of considerations. Here, then, 
this principle of ours comes in helpfully. The young 
man has to seek, not a road to wealth, but an oppor- 
tunity of service ; not money, but honest work. If 
he has some strong propensity, some calling of nature, 
some overweening interest in any special field of 
industry, inquiry, or art, he will do right to obey the 
impulse ; and that for two reasons : the first external, 
because there he will render the best services; the 
second personal, because a demand of his own nature 
is to him without appeal whenever it can be satisfied 
with the consent of his other faculties and appetites. 
If he has no such elective taste, by the very principle 
on which he chooses any pursuit at all he must 
choose the most honest and serviceable, and not 
the most highly remunerated. We have here an 
external problem, not from or to ourself, but flow- 
ing from the constitution of society ; and we have 
our own soul with its fixed design of righteousness. 
All that can be done is to present the problem in 
proper terms, and leave it to the soul of the indi- 
vidual. Now the problem to the poor is one of 
necessity: to earn wherewithal to live, they must 
find remunerative labour. But the problem to the 
rich is one of honour : having the wherewithal, they 
must find serviceable labour. Each has to earn his 
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daily bread : the one, because he has not yet got it 
to eat ; the other, who has already eaten it, because 
he has not yet earned it. 

Of course, what is true of bread is true of luxuries 
and comforts, whether for the body or the mind. 
But the consideration of luxuries leads us to a new 
aspect of the whole question, and to a second pro- 
position no less true, and maybe no less startling, 
than the last. 

At the present day, we, of the easier classes, are 
in a state of surfeit and disgrace after meat. Plethora 
has filled us with indifference ; and we are covered 
from head to foot with the callosities of habitual 
opulence. Born into what is called a certain rank, 
we live, as the saying is, up to our station. We 
squander without enjoyment, because our fathers 
squandered. We eat of the best, not from delicacy, 
but from brazen habit. We do not keenly enjoy or 
eagerly desire the presence of a luxury; we are 
unaccustomed to its absence. And not only do 
we squander money from habit, but still more piti- 
fully waste it in ostentation. I can think of no more 
melancholy disgrace for a creature who professes 
either reason or pleasure for his guide, than to spend 
the smallest fraction of his income upon that which 
he does not desire ; and to keep a carriage in which 
you do not wish to drive, or a butler of whom you 
are afraid, is a pathetic kind of folly. Money, being 
a means of happiness, should make both parties happy 
when it changes hands ; rightly disposed, it should 
be twice blessed in its employment ; and buyer and 
21 — 2 a 369 



LAY MORALS 

seller should alike have their twenty shillings worth 
of profit out of every pound. Benjamin Franklin 
went through life an altered man, because he once 
paid too dearly for a penny whistle. My concern 
springs usually from a deeper source, to wit, from 
having bought a whistle when I did not want one. 
I find I regret this, or would regret it if I gave my- 
self the time, not only on personal but on moral and 
philanthropical considerations. For, first, in a world 
where money is wanting to buy books for eager 
students and food and medicine for pining children, 
and where a large majority are starved in their most 
immediate desires, it is surely base, stupid, and cruel 
to squander money when I am pushed by no appetite 
and enjoy no return of genuine satisfaction. My 
philanthropy is wide enough in scope to include 
myself; and when I have made myself happy, I 
have at least one good argument that I have acted 
rightly ; but where that is not so, and I have bought 
and not enjoyed, my mouth is closed, and I conceive 
that I have robbed the poor. And, second, any- 
thing I buy or use which I do not sincerely want or 
cannot vividly enjoy, disturbs the balance of supply 
and demand, and contributes to remove industrious 
hands from the production of what is useful or 
pleasurable and to keep them busy upon ropes of 
sand and things that are a weariness to the flesh. 
That extravagance is truly sinful, and a very silly 
sin to boot, in which we impoverish mankind and 
ourselves. It is another question for each man's 
heart. He knows if he can enjoy what he buys and 
370 



LAY MORALS 

uses ; if he cannot, he is a dog in the manger ; nay, 
if he cannot, I contend he is a thief, for nothing 
really belongs to a nian which he cannot use. Pro- 
prietor is connected with propriety ; and that only is 
the man's which is proper to his wants and faculties. 
A youth, in choosing a career, must not be alarmed 
by poverty. Want is a sore thing, but poverty does 
not imply want. It remains to be seen whether with 
half his present income, or a third, he cannot, in the 
most generous sense, live as fully as at present. He 
is a fool who objects to luxuries ; but he is also a 
fool who does not protest against the waste of 
luxuries on those who do not desire and cannot 
enjoy them. It remains to be seen, by each man 
who would live a true life to himself and not a 
merely specious life to society, how many luxuries 
he truly wants and to how many he merely submits 
as to a social propriety; and all these last he will 
immediately forswear. Let him do this, and he will 
be surprised to find how little money it requires to 
keep him in complete contentment and activity of 
mind and senses. Life at any level among the easy 
classes is conceived upon a principle of rivalry, where 
each man and each household must ape the tastes 
and emulate the display of others. One is delicate 
in eating, another in wine, a third in furniture or 
works of art or dress ; and I, who care nothing for 
any of these refinements, who am perhaps a plain 
athletic creature and love exercise, beef, beer, flannel 
shirts and a camp bed, am yet called upon to assimi- 
late all these other tastes and make these foreign 

37i 



LAY MORALS 

occasions of expenditure my own. It may be 
cynical : I am sure I shall be told it is selfish ; but 
I will spend my money as I please and for my own 
intimate personal gratification, and should count 
myself a nincompoop indeed to lay out the colour 
of a halfpenny on any fancied social decency or duty. 
I shall not wear gloves unless my hands are cold, 
or unless I am born with a delight in them. Dress 
is my own affair, and that of one other in the world ; 
that, in fact and for an obvious reason, of any woman 
who shall chance to be in love with me. I shall lodge 
where I have a mind. If I do not ask society to live 
with me, they must be silent ; and even if I do, they 
have no further right but to refuse the invitation. 

There is a kind of idea abroad that a man must 
live up to his station, that his house, his table, 
and his toilette, shall be in a ratio of equivalence, and 
equally imposing to the world. If this is in the 
Bible, the passage has eluded my inquiries. If it is 
not in the Bible, it is nowhere but in the heart of 
the fool. Throw aside this fancy. See what you 
want, and spend upon that ; distinguish what you do 
not care about, and spend nothing upon that. There 
are not many people who can differentiate wines 
above a certain and that not at all a high price. 
Are you sure you are one of these ? Are you sure 
you prefer cigars at sixpence each to pipes at some 
fraction of a farthing ? Are you sure you wish to 
keep a gig ? Do you care about where you sleep, 
or are you not as much at your ease in a cheap 
lodging as in an Elizabethan manor-house? Do 
372 



LAY MORALS 

you enjoy fine clothes ? It is not possible to answer 
these questions without a trial ; and there is nothing 
more obvious to my mind, than that a man who has 
not experienced some ups and downs, and been forced 
to live more cheaply than in his father's house, has 
still his education to begin. Let the experiment be 
made, and he will find to his surprise that he has 
been eating beyond his appetite up to that hour; 
that the cheap lodging, the cheap tobacco, the rough 
country clothes, the plain table, have not only no 
power to damp his spirits, but perhaps give him as 
keen pleasure in the using as the dainties that he 
took, betwixt sleep and waking, in his former callous 
and somnambulous submission to wealth. 

The true Bohemian, a creature lost to view under 
the imaginary Bohemians of literature, is exactly 
described by such a principle of life. The Bohemian 
of the novel, who drinks more than is good for him 
and prefers anything to work, and wears strange 
clothes, is for the most part a respectable Bohemian, 
respectable in disrespectability, living for the out- 
side, and an adventurer. But the man I mean lives 
wholly to himself, does what he wishes, and not 
what is thought proper, buys what he wants for 
himself and not what is thought proper, works at 
what he believes he can do well and not what will 
bring him in money or favour. You may be the 
most respectable of men, and yet a true Bohemian. 
And the test is this : a Bohemian, for as poor as he 
may be, is always open-handed to his friends ; he 
knows what he can do with money and how he 

373 



LAY MORALS 

can do without it, a far rarer and more useful know- 
ledge ; he has had less, and continued to live in some 
contentment ; and hence he cares not to keep more, 
and shares his sovereign or his shilling with a friend. 
The poor, if they are generous, are Bohemian in 
virtue of their birth. Do you know where beggars 
go ? Not to the great houses where people sit dazed 
among their thousands, but to the doors of poor 
men who have seen the world; and it was the 
widow who had only two mites, who cast half her 
fortune into the treasury. 

But a young man who elects to save on dress or 
on lodging, or who in any way falls out of the level 
of expenditure which is common to his level in 
society, falls out of society altogether. I suppose 
the young man to have chosen his career on honour- 
able principles ; he finds his talents and instincts can 
be best contented in a certain pursuit ; in a certain 
industry, he is sure that he is serving mankind with 
a healthy and becoming service ; and he is not sure 
that he would be doing so, or doing so equally well, 
in any other industry within his reach. Then that 
is his true sphere in life ; not the one in which he 
was born to his father, but the one which is proper 
to his talents and instincts. And suppose he does 
fall out of society, is that a cause of sorrow ? Is 
your heart so dead that you prefer the recognition 
of many to the love of a few? Do you think 
society loves you ? Put it to the proof. Decline in 
material expenditure, and you will find they care no 
more for you than for the Khan of Tartary. You 
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LAY MORALS 

will lose no friends. If you had any, you will keep 
them. Only those who were friends to your coat 
and equipage will disappear; the smiling faces will 
disappear as by enchantment; but the kind hearts 
will remain steadfastly kind. Are you so lost, are 
you so dead, are you so little sure of your own soul 
and your own footing upon solid fact, that you 
prefer before goodness and happiness the countenance 
of sundry diners-out, who will flee from you at a 
report of ruin, who will drop you with insult at 
a shadow of disgrace, who do not know you and do 
not care to know you but by sight, and whom you 
in your turn neither know nor care to know in a 
more human manner? Is it not the principle of 
society, openly avowed, that friendship must not 
interfere with business; which being paraphrased, 
means simply that a consideration of money goes 
before any consideration of affection known to this 
cold-blooded gang, that they have not even the 
honour of thieves, and will rook their nearest and 
dearest as readily as a stranger ? I hope I would go 
as far as most to serve a friend ; but I declare openly 
I would not put on my hat to do a pleasure to 
society. I may starve my appetites and control my 
temper for the sake of those I love ; but society 
shall take me as I choose to be, or go without me. 
Neither they nor I will lose ; for where there is no 
love, it is both laborious and unprofitable to associate. 
But it is obvious that if it is only right for a man 
to spend money on that which he can truly and 
thoroughly enjoy, the doctrine applies with equal 

375 



LAY MORALS 

force to the rich and to the poor, to the man who 
has amassed many thousands as well as to the 
youth precariously beginning life. And it may be 
asked, Is not this merely preparing misers, who are 
not the best of company? But the principle was 
this : that which a man has not fairly earned, and, 
further, that which he cannot fully enjoy, does not 
belong to him, but is a part of mankind's treasure 
which he holds as steward on parole. To mankind, 
then, it must be made profitable; and how this 
should be done is, once more, a problem which each 
man must solve for himself, and about which none 
has a right to judge him. Yet there are a few con- 
siderations which are very obvious and may here be 
stated. Mankind is not only the whole in general, 
but every one in particular. Every man or woman 
is one of mankind's dear possessions ; to his or her 
just brain, and kind heart, and active hands, man- 
kind intrusts some of its hopes for the future ; he or 
she is a possible well-spring of good acts and source 
of blessings to the race. This money which you do 
not need, which, in a rigid sense, you do not want, 
may therefore be returned not only in public benefac- 
tions to the race, but in private kindnesses. Your 
wife, your children, your friends stand nearest to 
you, and should be helped the first. There at least 
there can be little imposture, for you know their 
necessities of your own knowledge. And consider, 
if all the world did as you did, and according to 
their means extended help in the circle of their 
affections, there would be no more crying want in 
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LAY MOKALS 

times of plenty and no more cold, mechanical charity 
given with a doubt and received with confusion. 
Would not this simple rule make a new world out 
of the old and cruel one which we inhabit ? Have 
you more money after this is done? are you so 
wealthy in gold, so poor in friends who need your 
help, that having done all you can among your own 
circle, you have still much of mankind's treasure 
undisposed upon your hands ? There are still other 
matters to be done where you need not fear imposi- 
tion ; and what is over you may hand over without 
fear to the children whom you have taught; they 
may be unfaithful to the trust, but you will have 
done your best and told them on what a solemn 
responsibility they must accept and deal with this 
money. . - . 

At this point the fragment breaks off. — [Ed.] 



377 



PRAYERS 

WRITTEN FOR 

FAMILY USE AT 

VAILIMA 



From the author's unpublished M8S. 

All rights reserved. 
Copyright in the United States of America. 



PRAYERS 

For Success 

Lord, behold our family here assembled. We thank 
Thee for this place in which we dwell ; for the love 
that unites us ; for the peace accorded us this day ; 
for the hope with which we expect the morrow ; for 
the health, the work, the food, and the bright skies, 
that make our lives delightful ; for our friends in all 
parts of the earth, and our friendly helpers in this 
foreign isle. Let peace abound in our small com- 
pany. Purge out of every heart the lurking grudge. 
Give us grace and strength to forbear and to per- 
severe. Offenders, give us the grace to accept and 
to forgive offenders. Forgetful ourselves, help us 
to bear cheerfully the forgetfulness of others. Give 
us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. Spare 
to us our friends, soften to us our enemies. Bless 
us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavours. If 
it may not, give us the strength to encounter that 
which is to come, that we be brave in peril, constant 
in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes 
of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and 
loving one to another. As the clay to the potter, 

38i 



PRAYERS 

as the windmill to the wind, as children of their 
sire, we beseech of Thee this help and mercy for 
Christ's sake. 

For Grace 

Grant that we here before Thee may be set free 
from the fear of vicissitude and the fear of death, 
may finish what remains before us of our course 
without dishonour to ourselves or hurt to others, 
and, when the day comes, may die in peace. De- 
liver us from fear and favour : from mean hopes 
and cheap pleasures. Have mercy on each in his 
deficiency ; let him be not cast down ; support the 
stumbling on the way, and give at last rest to the 
weary. 

At Morning 

The day returns and brings us the petty round of 
irritating concerns and duties. Help us to play the 
man, help us to perform them with laughter and 
kind faces, let cheerfulness abound with industry. 
Give us to go blithely on our business all this day, 
bring us to our resting beds weary and content 
and undishonoured, and grant us in the end the 
gift of sleep. 

Evening 

We come before Thee, O Lord, in the end of thy 
day with thanksgiving. 

Our beloved in the far parts of the earth, those 
382 



PRAYERS 

who are now beginning the labours of the day what 
time we end them, and those with whom the sun 
now stands at the point of noon, bless, help, console, 
and prosper them. 

Our guard is relieved, the service of the day is 
over, and the hour come to rest. We resign into 
thy hands our sleeping bodies, our cold hearths and 
open doors. Give us to awake with smiles, give us 
to labour smiling. As the sun returns in the east, 
so let our patience be renewed with dawn ; as the 
sun lightens the world, so let our loving-kindness 
make bright this house of our habitation. 



Another for Evening 

Lord, receive our supplications for this house, 
family, and country. Protect the innocent, restrain 
the greedy and the treacherous, lead us out of our 
tribulation into a quiet land. 

Look down upon ourselves and upon our absent 
dear ones. Help us and them ; prolong our days 
in peace and honour. Give us health, food, bright 
weather, and light hearts. In what we meditate of 
evil frustrate our will ; in what of good, further our 
endeavours. Cause injuries to be forgot and benefits 
to be remembered. 

Let us lie down without fear and awake and arise 
with exultation. For his sake, in whose words we 
now conclude. 

3*3 



PRAYERS 

In Time of Rain 

We thank Thee, Lord, for the glory of the late 
days and the excellent face of thy sun. We thank 
Thee for good news received. We thank Thee for 
the pleasures we have enjoyed and for those we 
have been able to confer. And now, when the 
clouds gather and the rain impends over the forest 
and our house, permit us not to be cast down ; let 
us not lose the savour of past mercies and past 
pleasures ; but, like the voice of a bird singing in 
the rain, let grateful memory survive in the hour 
of darkness. If there be in front of us any painful 
duty, strengthen us with the grace of courage; if 
any act of mercy, teach us tenderness and patience. 

Another in Time of Rain 

Lord, Thou sendest down rain upon the uncounted 
millions of the forest, and givest the trees to drink 
exceedingly. We are here upon this isle a few 
handfuls of men, and how many myriads upon 
myriads of stalwart trees ! Teach us the lesson 
of the trees. The sea around us, which this rain 
recruits, teems with the race of fish ; teach us, Lord, 
the meaning of the fishes. Let us see ourselves for 
what we are, one out of the countless number of the 
clans of thy handiwork. When we would despair, 
let us remember that these also please and serve 
Thee. 

384 



PRAYERS 

Before a Temporary Separation 

To-day we go forth separate, some of us to pleasure, 
some of us to worship, some upon duty. Go with 
us, our guide and angel ; hold Thou before us in our 
divided paths the mark of our low calling, still to be 
true to what small best we can attain to. Help us 
in that, our maker, the dispenser of events — Thou, 
of the vast designs, in which we blindly labour, 
suffer us to be so far constant to ourselves and our 
beloved. 

For Friends 

For our absent loved ones we implore thy loving- 
kindness. Keep them in life, keep them in growing 
honour; and for us, grant that we remain worthy 
of their love. For Christ's sake, let not our beloved 
blush for us, nor we for them. Grant us but that, 
and grant us courage to endure lesser ills unshaken, 
and to accept death, loss, and disappointment as it 
were straws upon the tide of life. 

For the Family 

Aid us, if it be thy will, in our concerns. Have 
mercy on this land and innocent people. Help them 
who this day contend in disappointment with their 
frailties. Bless our family, bless our forest house, 
bless our island helpers. Thou who hast made for us 
this place of ease and hope, accept and inflame our 
21—2 b 385 



PRAYERS 

gratitude ; help us to repay, in service one to another, 
the debt of thine unmerited benefits and mercies, so 
that when the period of our stewardship draws to a 
conclusion, when the windows begin to be darkened, 
when the bond of the family is to be loosed, there shall 
be no bitterness of remorse in our farewells. 

Help us to look back on the long way that Thou 
hast brought us, on the long days in which we have 
been served not according to our deserts but our 
desires ; on the pit and the miry clay, the blackness 
of despair, the horror of misconduct, from which our 
feet have been plucked out. For our sins forgiven 
or prevented, for our shame unpublished, we bless 
and thank Thee, O God. Help us yet again and 
ever. So order events, so strengthen our frailty, as 
that day by day we shall come before Thee with this 
song of gratitude, and in the end we be dismissed with 
honour. In their weakness and their fear, the vessels 
of thy handiwork so pray to Thee, so praise Thee. 
Amen. 

Sunday 

We beseech Thee, Lord, to behold us with favour, 
folk of many families and nations gathered together 
in the peace of this roof, weak men and women 
subsisting under the covert of thy patience. Be 
patient still ; suffer us yet a while longer ; — with our 
broken purposes of good, with our idle endeavours 
against evil, suffer us a while longer to endure and 
(if it may be) help us to do better. Bless to us our 
extraordinary mercies ; if the day come when these 
386 



PRAYERS 

must be taken, brace us to play the man under 
affliction. Be with our friends, be with ourselves. 
Go with each of us to rest ; if any awake, temper to 
them the dark hours of watching ; and when the day 
returns, return to us, our sun and comforter, and call 
us up with morning faces and with morning hearts 
— eager to labour — eager to be happy, if happiness 
shall be our portion — and if the day be marked for 
sorrow, strong to endure it. 

We thank Thee and praise Thee ; and in the 
words of him to whom this day is sacred, close 
our oblation. 

For Self-blame 

Lord, enlighten us to see the beam that is in our 
own eye, and blind us to the mote that is in our 
brother's. Let us feel our offences with our hands, 
make them great and bright before us like the sun, 
make us eat them and drink them for our diet. 
Blind us to the offences of our beloved, cleanse them 
from our memories, take them out of our mouths for 
ever. Let all here before Thee carry and measure with 
the false balances of love, and be in their own eyes and 
in all conjunctures the most guilty. Help us at the 
same time with the grace of courage, that we be none 
of us cast down when we sit lamenting amid the ruins 
of our happiness or our integrity : touch us with fire 
from the altar, that we may be up and doing to re- 
build our city : in the name and by the method of 
him in whose words of prayer we now conclude. 

387 



PRAYERS 

For Self-forgetfulness 

Lord, the creatures of thy hand, thy disinherited 
children, come before Thee with their incoherent 
wishes and regrets : Children we are, children we 
shall be, till our mother the earth hath fed upon our 
bones. Accept us, correct us, guide us, thy guilty 
innocents. Dry our vain tears, wipe out our vain 
resentments, help our yet vainer efforts. If there 
be any here, sulking as children will, deal with and 
enlighten him. Make it day about that person, so 
that he shall see himself and be ashamed. Make it 
heaven about him, Lord, by the only way to heaven, 
forgetfulness of self, and make it day about his 
neighbours, so that they shall help, not hinder him. 

For renewal of Joy 

We are evil, O God, and help us to see it and 
amend. We are good, and help us to be better. 
Look down upon thy servants with a patient eye, 
even as Thou sendest sun and rain ; look down, call 
upon the dry bones, quicken, enliven ; re-create in 
us the soul of service, the spirit of peace ; renew 
in us the sense of joy. 



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